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(69:45; Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate)
Over the last year or so I have reviewed all of HOGIA’s albums, along with many of the minimalist solo releases from band leader Malcolm Galloway, so I was intrigued to hear the latest. On this album he provides vocals, guitar, keyboards, synths and programming and he is of course joined by long-time collaborator Mark Gatland (bass, additional guitars, keyboards/synths, Chapman Stick) and flautist Kathryn Thomas who performs on five of the songs on offer. Kathryn has been working with HOGIA since their second album, but I believe this is the one where she had the biggest part to play. Usually there is a larger number of guests, but for this album it is just the three of them. As I have come to expect from HOGIA, this album is a combination of lengthy instrumental passages, plus songs with interesting and intriguing lyrics. One of the prevailing themes of the album is the fragility of human civilisation, with tracks exploring this from a science fiction perspective. Galloway states he has been massively influenced by the works of Alastair Reynolds in particular and has set some of the tracks within worlds Reynolds created. For me, the song which has the most impact is “Ark”, which is an instrumental depicting the story of the famous aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. Galloway has a personal link with the ship, as his grandfather served with the Fleet Air Arm and was based on the ship for a while, and he now has Richard Galloway’s flight logs and I am sure this link is what has assisted in creating an incredibly dramatic piece of music. The piece starts with the ship being built, and then works through different stages from surviving a U-boat attack to its part to the sinking of the Bismarck through to its own demise. He dedicates this piece to “Richard Galloway, the Fleet Air Arm, and all those who risked everything to stand up against the Nazis”, and to me is one of the most poignant and emotional pieces I have heard from him to date. As with all of HOGIA’s albums, this is full of differing styles and contrasts, yet I believe this time the separate pieces blend together in a way which has been somewhat missing from the others. Art rock and crossover combine in a way which is both immediate and somewhat deeper than before. I would like to hear more of Kathryn throughout the album, and a real drummer would be welcomed, but if anyone has yet to start a journey with HOGIA then this is the one to investigate.
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