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CD Feature/ MGR: "Wavering On The Cresting Heft"

img  Tobias

As the end of the year approaches, the critics are sharpening their pencils for their annual top-10s: Who has written the saddest song this year? Michael Gallagher is one of the hot contenders. Armed with nothing but a guitar, a bass and some atmospheric textures, he is an ambient soldier, a poet of despair. If you believe that romance has a lot to do with longing and never getting what you really want, then this is the album to spend your cold season with.

It fits the concept, then, that “Wavering on the Cresting Heft” opens with a piece by the name of “Allusions”. Everything is a suggestion, a hint, nothing is certain: Broodingly twitching and tremoring tones are piercing a soft cloth of wind, a broken chord scheme makes its entrance, a bass beating like a faraway heart introduces the notion of rhythm and takes the track to a wounded wasteland softly caressed by the warm harmonies of the Capricollis String Quartet. Just as quickly as it rose from the gutter, the music withdraws again, leaving no traces and offering no resolution.

It is a scheme Gallagher will continue for the entire duration of “Wavering on the Cresting Heft”: Drifty triads are supported by low register sonorities and lifted by guitar melodies played with a dreamy tremolo effect, lending them the timbre of a ballalaika. The music receives its tension thanks to the slight irregularities in performance, the stoic punctuations, the dynamic of the arrangements and continous minor changes in the motives – even though the pieces are essentually cyclical, each cycle is different. It is a subtle play with expectations, which lifts the work from so many comparable approaches.

The album also reminds one of the magic that lies in following up on a particular mood and savoring it fully until everything has been said. Michael Gallagher is well aware of the fact that he keeps coming to the same places. But it is his creativity in constantly reinventing himself that makes each journey feel like a new one. Next to the surprising string infusion on the opening movement, he also experiments with playing crunching powerchords very silently on “It Darkens his Door” as well as with electronic noise attacks. And he knows when to stop: After 41 minutes, the story has been told.

By then, of couse, it has become clear that the record will not come to a happy end. And yet, it is not simply a depressed tour de fear. “Wavering on the Cresting Heft” is like a handkerchief being offered to you in the pouring rain: It won’t make the tears go away, but it’s a consoling gesture.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: MGR
Homepage: Conspiracy Records

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