At a time when the hegemony of physical media is under constant threat by the ever-increasing popularity of the digital format, it's always refreshing to encounter a beautifully packaged CD that serves to remind just why the reification of music is, and should always be, superior to its virtual counterpart. Hummus Records not only still champion the physical prowess of music, but have become renowned for some inventively packaged products. Ĝlten's 'Mode' is no exception. A striking image adorns the front cover (which proves to be somewhat ambiguous in light of the music on offer from this Swiss troupe) - an orange-tinted monochrome photo that simply intrigues. On the back cover, which is purely orange, is an embossed, slashed 'Ĝ' from the band's name. Simple, but beautiful. And, to a degree, that's precisely what Ĝlten's music adheres to and conveys, minimalist 'beauty' (of sorts).
Euphonically executed sludge, 'Mode' is predominantly an instrumental offering, apart from 'Gloom'. Interestingly, an instrumental version of said track closes the album, so I am actually left wondering whether it would've been better had they closed with the vocal alternative so as to maintain the instrumental flow of the album's core, particularly seeing as the awkwardly executed growls are most certainly not one of Ĝlten's strengths (albeit the growler in question is only a guest - Tomas Liljedahl of former Breach fame). And for what's being marketed as a full-length release, it's a tad cheeky to double-up with this 10+ minute track anyway - without it, the album's but a mere 38 or so minutes in length. However, it's an enjoyable 38 minutes, in parts, where passages of sludge-infused, dirt-clad riffs, complete with distorted basslines, are mixed up with less harsh sounding parts. Generally, guitar, bass, synth and drums are fused well to create textures of sonic intrigue, although my gripe with this album is that, all too often, it meanders along with no real purpose. Just when you think that ideas might develop into modes of expression that engender a greater depth to their aesthetic, instrumentations remain firmly rooted within the parameters of their unambitious intentions. It's disappointing to a degree as certain compositions promise so much but, ultimately, deliver all too little most of the time.
Review by Mark Holmes
17th April 2015
6) Gloom (Instrumental)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...disappointing to a degree as certain compositions promise so much but, ultimately, deliver all too little most of the time."