GALA­HAD

Gala­had’s quest for the soft and re­flec­tive – with added Ramm­stein.

Prog - - Intro - GARY MACkenZie

Al­though 2015’s When Worlds Col­lide 30th an­niver­sary ret­ro­spec­tive had the en­tic­ing USP of be­ing a selection of Gala­had songs from across the band’s ca­reer es­pe­cially re-worked and re-recorded, th­ese hardy Brit prog peren­ni­als haven’t re­leased an en­tirely “new” al­bum since 2012’s Be­yond The Realms Of Eupho­ria. Quiet Storms isn’t that brand new al­bum. In­stead, a some­what re­duced band – founder mem­ber and long-serv­ing gui­tarist Roy Key­worth de­parted ear­lier this year – ap­plies it­self to old Gala­had songs, plus a cou­ple of cov­ers and new tunes, but re-recorded as pri­mar­ily acous­tic ver­sions de­signed to show “a more mel­low and at times pas­toral side to the band’s out­put”.

The ma­jor­ity of the al­bum fea­tures stripped back, al­most stark, ren­di­tions with Stu Ni­chol­son’s voice backed by the piano, and oc­ca­sion­ally other key­boards, of Dean Baker.

Other con­trib­u­tors add smat­ter­ings of sonic di­ver­sity here and there – Threshold’s Karl Groom adds acous­tic gui­tar flour­ishes, Ma­genta’s Christina Booth duets with Ni­chol­son on a touch­ing ren­di­tion of Ter­mi­na­tion and a wildly dif­fer­ent yet un­ex­pect­edly ef­fec­tive stab at Ramm­stein’s Mein Herz Brennt is given aching vi­o­lin from Louise Cur­tis.

This acous­tic ap­proach shines new light on fa­mil­iar tunes in other ways. Guardian An­gel orig­i­nally fea­tured a hard-driven odd-time work­out intro and syn­th­tas­tic ex­tended mid­dle sec­tion in its Be­yond The Realms Of Eupho­ria guise, but here it breathes and flows with ten­der­ness and beauty. Eas­ier Said Than Done uses lay­ered synth string or­ches­tra­tions, and Sarah Bolter on clar­inet, to frame a sur­pris­ingly Bea­tles-es­que bal­lad. While the lack of ex­tra­ne­ous in­stru­men­ta­tion re­moves the edge from This Life Could Be My Last, (from 2007’s Em­pires Never Last) the space al­lows Ni­chol­son to stretch out vo­cally, evok­ing a bit of Ge­orge Michael and 90s boy band bal­lads, and Don’t Lose Con­trol, from 1991’s Noth­ing Is Writ­ten al­bum ben­e­fits here from a de­liv­ery far more El­ton John-like than the orig­i­nal.

At 15 tracks, in­ter­ested par­ties are get­ting gen­er­ous quan­ti­ties of Gala­had for their buck. Of course, the game of musical com­pare and con­trast is en­ter­tain­ingly di­vert­ing only if you’re fa­mil­iar with the source ma­te­rial, which per­haps limits the po­ten­tial au­di­ence. Ni­chol­son has in­di­cated that the next stu­dio al­bum Seas Of Change will be re­leased later this year, so fan pa­tience will be re­warded. Quiet Storms isn’t as ful­fill­ing as some may de­sire, yet is more than a cursory stop-gap – it gen­tly sub­verts expectations, cre­at­ing a less bom­bas­tic, al­ter­na­tive par­al­lel uni­verse Gala­had in the process.

MORE THAN A CURSORY STOP GAP, GEN­TLY

SUBVERTING EXPECTATIONS.

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