Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate; "Broken But Still Standing"

Prog rock greetings from "across the pond" fellow progheads!  Two weeks in Italy was fascinating and mesmerizing, but as always the search for all things prog continues on.  This week I take the Closet Concert Arena over to the UK for a visit with Malcolm Galloway and his band, Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate.  It seems Malcolm & Company have put together a new album titled "Broken But Still Standing," a concept LP dealing with evolution.

Knowing Malcolm like I think I do, this album is sure to be an adventure. Since discovering Hats Off Gentlemen almost two years ago, I have found each new release to be distinctive and exceptional in its own right.  His music runs the gamut of the prog garden and dabbles in the ambient as well...truly an artist with a vision...and to the headphones I go...

With Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the best option is to enter the music realm with absolutely no pre-conceived notions about what to expect...so with a clean slate behind my forehead, I hit the "play" button.  As "Vent" fills the headphones I am immediately transported to another place in time...the mood is somber as a flute smooth as a sunset reflecting lake cuts through you gently. Vocals pick up the ambiance; darkness seems to set in quickly as the rest of the band circles around you.

Top notes of Gentle Giant and Traffic fill the room while the music takes you down a rabbit hole straight into "Almost Familiar."  Malcolm tends to fill the canvas with grays and assorted dark hues and that is true here.  There is something about his vocals though; their edginess slices through the gentle layer of guitar like an X-Acto knife cutting through cardboard...smooth, but just a tad rough around the edges.  This is not a knock--it's the rough edges that give the song credibility.

The ambient section of the prog garden is well represented, so moving down the playlist a bit I find a tune with a little more oomph if you will; "Let Me Out."  Continuing to use the darker crayons in the box, Hats Off Gentlemen creates an image filled with tension and a burning desire to rush forth...I kept waiting for something to grab my ears through the headphones.  The flute on this piece is nothing short of splendid; you can almost feel the flames roaring at your back.  Suddenly a bootlegger's turn into "Under the Skin" leaves you floating above the chaos and mayhem much like  Syd Barrett might be while staring down at Pink Floyd on stage today; a bit ethereal I imagine...

Liner Notes...Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and song writer Malcom Galloway, who may or may not be joined on stage by flautist Kathryn Thomas, guitarist Ibon Bilbao, bass player Mark Gatland, and Rudy Roo sitting behind the drum kit.  I say may be joined because Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is an overly informal project...and that is part of the draw for me.

Malcolm puts words together to create marvelous lyrics and the accompanying music is refreshing and unleashed...there are no hard boundaries; the parameters seem almost fluid.  Combine that with Malcolm's generosity of spirit--the band plays more charity gigs than some bands play gigs period--and you get the sense that Hats Off Gentlemen is more like a band's band...playing for the adrenaline rush that performing generates.

If you are still on the fence about Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, do yourself a favor and explore deeper at the band's website Hats Off Gentlemen.  You can access and purchase "Broken But Still Standing" as well as the band's other releases.  You will also discover their music at
Hats Off Gentlemen cdbaby and find out more about the band at Hats Off Gentlemen Facebook and Twitter @itsadequate.

Closing out the review with the final cut from the album, "Close My Eyes."  While staying true to the darker side of the garden, this song does breach daylight a tad.  Drums and keyboards burn through the clouds as the song opens and the vocals share a somewhat poignant moment...a bit unusual for Malcolm perhaps, proving once again the prog garden is filled with surprises.

This week I offer you a glimpse into the making of the album as well as the mind of the artist.  The  clip below involves music from five of the first six cuts on the album; there are seventeen in total.  As with  a band such as Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate, the visuals in the video are as meaningful as the audio they interpret.  Let this entire clip wash over you like a warm shower after running a marathon...so welcome, relaxing, and invigorating...

The album opens on the ambient side of the garden, leaning toward aromatics of Eno and Pink Floyd.  As you listen you notice your pulse slowing down and everything around you becoming less significant, as if you are but a spectator viewing the world from stage left--much like Ebeneezer Scrooge as he floated through his own life with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.  Simply sit in your treasured comfy chair with a favorite beverage and relax...

So as we move further through the calendar watching October fade in the rear view mirror, it is but a matter of time when a blanket of snow covers the prog garden.  However, until that moment
arrives--and even after--the search for all things prog has miles to go before 2017 plays her swan song.

Hats Off Gentlemen It's Adequate is an ideal example of what prog is; music that does not follow a traditional pattern or path but rather evolves.  Hats Off Gentlemen manages to evolve both with every new album and every time you listen to the same album...there is so much there you can't take it all in on the first go-round.  So as the search for all things prog continues on, The Closet Concert Arena picks up the torch...until next time...

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