onsdag 21. august 2019

SINGLE REVIEW: Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate - Ark

(Glass Castle Recordings)
Release date: September 6th 2019
Genre: progressive rock, experimental rock, folk rock

Just like Sweden and their melodic metal, there is something special about the British and the prog rock genre. Of course there are other nationalities that master the genre too, for example Italy, Germany, France, and even Sweden too, but there is nothing quite like progressive rock that has that archetypal veil of British eccentricity.

Apart from naming the most obvious masters of the genre; Genesis, King Crimson and (this writer's personal favorite) Yes, there are probably hundreds and thousands of bands that make vibrant, colorful and artistic rock with technical and compositional finesse. Progressive rock was proven devoid of musical boundaries more than fifty years ago, and still to this day there are ensembles that create magic with odd time signatures, playful arrangements and spellbinding atmospheres that makes a 20 minute epic feel like it's an hour too short.

A group that most definitely is worthy of such a remark is the London based duo HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE. A fetching name to say the least. The duo consists of Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland, with Kathryn Thomas (also Galloway's wife) joining in with the occasional flute when found favorable. Galloway/Gatland have played together since they were in school, so an exact time to pinpoint the formation of the group is not easy to find, but more importantly they must have enjoyed many years of exploring music and crafting their own niche.

Because when you listen to their latest single, simply entitled "Ark", it becomes apparent that they have developed their own certain style.

The single consists of three tracks. The "A-side" of course is the title track, a close to 12 minute long journey inspired by Galloway's grandfather's history in World War II. A fine track that starts off rather smoothly with a collage of delayed electronic piano and an assortment of sounds in a seemingly complex, yet playful pattern. The lead guitars on this instrumental track have a lot of Steve Hackett in them, both in terms of sound and melody, and the piano that serves as the foundation of it all brings out shimmering notes that gives it all a gentle touch.

"Ark" has a lot of different movements, spanning from soaring Pink Floyd-like soundscapes, the bright piano lines as mentioned earlier, and more abstract passages that would sound right at home on a King Crimson record.

"Chasing Neon" is the rather different B-side, and shows a more experimental side of HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE, at least in terms of instrumentation. This is an instrumental as well, and whereas the A-side was a documentation of historical events, "Chasing Neon" is quite futuristic and mysterious. Based around an electronic arp pattern that serves as a riff, this is a very interesting side of the band's repertoire, and it shows that Galloway/Gatland master both the classic style of progressive rock, as well as that with a more modern approach.

After an eventful ride at sea on the Ark Royal carrier, and a trip out to space, we end up in Ireland. The third track "She Moved Through The Fair" is originally a traditional Irish folk song, but here it appears as an ambient and downbeat bonus track with strong Marillion (with Hogarth) influences. Not quite how Irish folk music would sound in the first place, but the contrast is heavenly.

This writer's first meeting with HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE is an exciting one, as they prove to be a very dynamic ensemble with ability to discover and explore new directions in their music. The three tracks on this release are great proof that this British duo can create vibrant and texturally varied music with tons of atmosphere, and yet they're not the first band to accomplish this within the progressive rock genre, I feel that HATS OFF GENTLEMEN IT'S ADEQUATE's music has the kind of integrity that should make them stand out in the crowd of creators of artistic rock music.


1. Ark*
2. Chasing Neon
3. She Moved Through The Fair

*Added to the Subterranean Noise - 2019 playlist on Spotify.

- Malcolm Galloway - guitars, vocals, keyboards, production, composition and arrangements
- Mark Gatland: bass, guitars, co-production
- Kathryn Thomas - flute

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