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Malcolm Galloway - 2016 - "Still Life"

(92:59; Glass Castle Recordings)


This 2016 four-track album is bookended by pieces which are more than thirty minutes long (and in fact closer “The Haber Process” is forty), so it does seem strange indeed that “Shelter” is less than four. But the album commences with “Dutch Flowers”, a piece which was written for the National Gallery in London (premiere 22 July 2016), to celebrate the gallery's Dutch Flowers exhibition. This is a direct continuation from ‘Minimalist’ in many ways, with strings also setting the backdrop. Here though Galloway has brought in his electric guitar providing yet more colours and contrasts. Through the introduction there is little in the way of marimba or harp, which I had somewhat come to expect, but instead it is guitar and sparse piano combining with the strings this time. Of all his music this is what reminded me most of Roger Eno, whose album ‘Fragile’ is one of my favourite minimalist releases. The marimba do of course make an entry, repeating and looping as one is taken on a journey inside one’s own mind. However, there is a great deal of change within this piece, as we are taken into dark areas which instead of walking through a forest glade finds us inside a dark alley at night crunching the broken glass under our feet. There is dischord and danger placed against harmony, and it is unnerving. This use of minor chords and less harmonious styles can be found thoughout this album, which in many ways is the most challenging of Galloway’s that I have heard. He is taking the listener on a journey they may not wish to take, going along unwillingly into a dark night as opposed to drifting along. It is dynamic, at times incredibly cold, and intriguing. This is film noir experience, yet not unpleasant, and there are times when I found myself thinking of Art Zoyd in the approach. Interesting and intriguing.

Progtector: November 2019

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Malcolm Galloway


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