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Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate - Nostalgia for Infinity CD (album) cover

NOSTALGIA FOR INFINITY

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate

 

Crossover Prog

3.96 | 4 ratings

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TCat
4 stars After being impressed with last year's "Ark" EP and receiving a nice "thank you" from the band, I have been looking forward to a new full album release from "Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate", and in February of 2020, they have released the digital version of their album "Nostalgia for Infinity" (the physical CD will be released in May). This album boasts a total of 12 tracks and a total run time of almost 70 minutes. The duo of Malcolm Galloway (vocals, guitar, keyboards, synths, and programming) and Mark Gatland (bass, guitars, keyboards, synths, Chapman stick) is joined by one of their returning regular musicians Kathryn Thomas (flute, vocals). Two of the three tracks that were on 2019's EP show up on this album, namely "Ark" and "Chasing Neon", so if those tracks are any indication, this album is already pointing in a positive direction.

According to the Bandcamp page, the album has a loose concept in at least 7 of the tracks that were inspired by science fiction author and astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds with other tracks relating to nanotechnology, World War II, and environmental destruction, basically different perspectives dealing with the frailty of civilization.

"Century Rain" (9:17) starts things off with a classical music feel bringing in the flute and then becoming cinematic with layers of synth and guitar building up a nice sweeping feeling. This builds a foundation for vocals and well-written lyrics. After two verses, guitar and flute create a nice atmosphere, and soon a synth heavy solo also brings in an up tempo rhythm and soon vocals start again repeating the chorus, and then an extended instrumental ending flows along nicely to the end, still featuring plenty of lovely flute, synth layers and guitars with a moderate beat and a symphonic attitude. "Twin Earth" (5:59) continues with the same style, but more of a rock edge than before. There is more of the flute on this one, and again the lyrics are well written bringing in the progressive feel to match the words. Strong synths drive the last 4 minutes of the track which is all instrumental which features some nice playful interchange with the keys and flute, piano flourishes and moderately fast beat.

"Ark" (11:47) is the instrumental centerpiece from last year's EP and following is a description that I wrote in the review for the EP. "This track is inspired by Malcolm's grandfather's (Richard Galloway) WWII flight logs. Richard served on the aircraft carrier known as the Ark Royal which has an interesting history, including taking part in the sinking of the Bismark. The music specifically relates to incidents as it plays, the description of which is on the band's Bandcamp site (under the listing for the EP) for those that are interested. It does make everything interesting to follow along. The track is dedicated to Richard and those that fought against the Nazis. Malcolm plays everything on this track except for bass (played by Mark). A light, meandering section starts off the track mostly made up of keyboards and light guitar. Synths bring in a orchestral feeling and a very nice guitar plays over a beautiful twinkling piano background and the rhythm is nice and smooth giving the impression of smooth sailing. The music becomes tenser and darker at 3 minutes signifying preparation for confronting the enemy and is driven by synths and keys. At 5 minutes, the music becomes dramatic signifying the confrontation of a U-boat, which proved the vulnerability of the aircraft carrier, but it eventually sunk by a separate war ship. The music quiets down leaving just keys and light guitar work, but remaining tense as the hunt for The Bismark begins. At 8 minutes, the guitar brings back in full instrumentation for a climactic section. The Bismark is sunk, but the last section represents the sinking of the aircraft carrier. After nine minutes, the music becomes soft and twinkling again and ends beautifully." It's a progressive masterpiece with symphonic prog leanings inspired by classical music compositional style, a mini soundtrack for the mind.

"Nanobotoma" (5:34) goes for a harder, rock edge, more in a straightforward way, but with excellent, complex lyrics that are easy to understand with Malcolm's clear delivery. He may not have the best voice, but it serves the purpose by accenting the words clearly. This track also features a nice guitar solo. "Chasing Neon" (5:34) appeared on the "Ark" EP. Again I'll use my review of that EP for this track. The instrumental "is composed by Malcolm, but he only plays keys and synths while Mark takes over on guitar and also plays bass. It begins softly with synths, but soon a funky synth comes in and a steady percussion pushes it quickly forward. The synths establish a melodic, repeating pattern, and then the guitar comes in creating a darker atmosphere while the beat continues. The instrumental is quite straightforward, but it is still pretty good."

"Glitterband" (5:32) takes on a darker feel as it deals with an apocalyptic theme, again the lyrics are excellent, the vocals are more dramatic on this track. A keyboard riff carries it all forward supported by minimal guitar, a solid beat and bass line, the music flows along easily, but with a more morose and dramatic atmopshere. "Conjoiners" (4:31) is a spooky and atmospheric instrumental. A slow synth melody comes in later, but the music keeps on the dark and ambient side of things. Using electronics and synths, the music builds a bit as it continues, swirling around and then slowing down again at the end. "Scorpio" (1:19) is an even darker track, much heavier and dramatic, a short and concise statement that throws in some dissonant jazz towards the end. This track could have developed into an interesting idea, but is over too quickly. "Inhibitors" (3:25) goes into an experimental mode with great effects that also utilize the flute. Dark and foreboding, it still has some intriguing atmosphere that makes things mysterious and plays with the boundaries approaching avant garde style.

The title track "Nostalgia for Infinity" (6:59) features Kathryn doing the vocals in an echoing, spoken word style. A moderate beat takes off bringing along swirling synth riffs and melody as this continues. Soon the beat ends and the music gets atmospheric and dark again and her vocals become songlike and wordless, the beat comes back in and her lovely flute takes over. Very nice. Just before the 4 minute mark, Malcolm begins singing and finally establishing the melody. This is definitely one of the stronger tracks of the album, with Malcolm letting loose in his vocal expression. "Voyager" (5:50) is another nice instrumental, this time featuring some beautiful guitar with nice support from the flute and synths. Later, the synth also gets a solo. The melody on this one is quite lovely and heartfelt. The album ends with "Sixth Extinction" (4:06), a fast paced track with a surprsingly heavy riff and frantic vocals. Again, the strength in in the lyrics more than the vocal ability, but its all good because the lyrics are easy to understand.

This album does a great job of showing the versatility of the band and also has a great mix of vocals and instrumentals. There are some definate highlights in this album, namely "Ark", "Conjoiners", "Nostalgia for Infinity", "Voyager" and "Century Rain". The other tracks also are quite good and will keep your interest as you listen to the entire album. The music goes quite smoothly into different styles, but is still cohesive as it explores symphonic styles, ambient and experimental sections, electronic music and a few tracks that are relatively straightforward. The vocals are okay, but the lyrics are excellent. The musicianship is wonderful, though I wish I could have heard more of the jazz fusion side that they hint at in "Scorpio". The use of the flute in many of the tracks is also a big plus, yet it never wears out its welcome as it appears in various places throughout the album, giving it all the right amount of depth. All in all, this is a very enjoyable album even if it doesn't get heavily progressive, there is still a great amount of progressive traits to the music, especially in the classically influenced tracks and the ones that lean more toward the symphonic style. The album does still pique my interest as I look forward to where this band can go. This is one that should not be ignored, though some will really love it while others may like to hear more experimentation. It's hard to please everyone, but I know this album pleases me. There are masterpieces in this album for sure and that is what keeps my interest in the band, but overall it comes out as a 4 star effort with high recommendations.

TCat | 4/5 |

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