Dim Gray – Firmament: Album Review

Dim Gray find themselves in the midst of a purple patch with another subtly sublime set

Release Date: 2nd September 2022

Label: English Electric Recordings

Format: CD / digital

Just over a year ago we were impressed with the multi-faceted inclination of Dim Gray’s Flown (our review). Suddenly they’re all over the Prog music pages again. A new album, a winning slot at one of the famed Marillion weekends and a similar support slot with the return of Big Big Train in Aylesbury. We’ll be reporting back from the latter too but in the meantime, the new record needs, like a good old drink, to be imbibed. Several singles have already been shared so how do they stack up against the rest of the album?

On Firmament, the multi-faceted backgrounds of Håkon Høiberg, Oskar Holldorff and Tom Ian Klungland combine to further explore the landscape of melancholy and longing that we encountered on the band’s debut Flown.  A smooth and controlled ambience ebbs and flows through twelve tracks where grand gestures and crescendos are pitched side by side with delicate and intricately arranged moments. With an eye on the commercial side, you can picture Dim Gray filling a Keane-shaped void – “where the ocean meets the sky” and all!

As the singles – Mare, Ashes and Avalon/The Tide – have indicated, Undertow picks up and runs with the themes of fragility and builds with increasingly intense strings and bombast, heading towards a cinematic conclusion. The light touch of the vocals adds an emotional hit of longing with 51~ continuing to paint a similarly gossamer picture as the swathes of ethereal soundscapes take a firm hold.

In contrast to some of the haunting explorations, Cannons is positively jaunty. Naturally, built on a delicate sprinkling of notes that cascade in the flurry of a percussive waterfall. A cross between a lullaby and an alternative folky jig, Cannons hints at the warmth of sunlight breaking through the clouds before becoming overcast again. The chamber reverence is back in force though with Gregoire Blanc’s high-pitched saw and theramin adding an extra texture to Iron Henry.

While the influences from the classical and the cinematic oeuvres are omnipresent, the twelve pieces represent arty pop at its finest, Firmament is glacier fresh; a soothing and calming venture.

Here’s Mare from the album:

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