Crackling Vinyl Presesnt…. Gallops
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“Gallops customarily serve up instrumental soundscapes that match metallic brawn with a serrated electronic edge…. attending to both cerebral and dancefloor pleasures.” MOJO
Out of the unassuming Welsh town of Wrexham, Gallops re-emerge having expanded their tight, punchy math-rock constructions into something of a more panoramic scope for debut LP Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore. A group who take all you know about the more technical, leftfield strands of the musical periphery and turn them inside out, they express a joy in the freedom of being able to jump between time signatures and textures, rather than treating such dexterity as a po-faced exercise in instrument proficiency.
Gallops first streaked into view in 2010 with a self-titled EP, following that up with Record Store Day release ‘Joust/Eukodol’. Even between those two releases the group’s thirst for progression was evident, but so too was their desire for fun whilst doing it, tracks bouncing round with the giddiness of a pinball in a machine. That infectious energy was seized upon by many, leading to performances at 2011’s SXSW conference and also a recent tour of China. Now in 2012, and with their debut album ready, the band’s guitarist Mark Huckridge thinks that the group’s creative forward momentum is showing no signs of slowing; “We’ve really opened up a bit more and found our sound now” he enthuses, “the compositions are less linear and feel a bit more free.”
Those already aware of Gallops probably won’t be too surprised to learn that they recorded the album with Three Trapped Tigers’ Matt Calvert, the sessions taking place at House of Strange studios in London. TTT share a similar attitude in maintaining a light touch to their experimental cravings and it was important to have an outsider detached from the process who could take on ideas and feedback with an impartial ear. The band are unlike many others in that they refuse to settle on a specific way to write their songs; sometimes they come about as a result of an improvised idea, other times a song will emerge fully sequenced by one of the group, the rest needing to be filled in at the practice room. A perfect case in point of the almost collage-like nature of their song structures is the aforementioned ‘Crutches’, a track that apparently used to be a lot shorter until different jams and ideas kept finding their way onto the end of it, the result of playing it at the end of their live set.
This shifting strategy in the creative process helps to give their music a tremendous sense of free energy, the album constantly veering from a more orthodox guitar sound to territories as wide and varied as German kosmische, panoramic soundtracks never-to-be, and passages of minimalism and techno rhythms influenced by labels such as Cologne’s Kompakt. Indeed, Gallops happily list further, more indirect touchstones such as Arvo Part, Sunn O))), and film score composers including Vangelis and John Carpenter, but insists again that “An important factor in the song writing process was to groove and not to overcomplicate things, which could’ve been a very easy trap to fall into. We wanted to avoid being clever for the sake of it.”
With so much coming from all sides – every member of the band bring their own ideas to the table for consideration – it’s remarkable how Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore retains such a tight, lean set of tracks. Some are sprawling in their length, but every element and intersection feels completely vital, meaning that the overall experience never seems to wander during its 55 minutes. A battle between guitars and electronics is the centre piece of an LP packed with power, pace, groove and intelligence. There’s no shame in pushing yourself to your technical limits, but there is if you don’t sound like you’re having a blast doing it; it’s a viewpoint that Gallops clearly hold keenly.