Album Review: Guillemots – Hello Land!

By on Tuesday, 17th July 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Guillemots come into 2012 with an ambitious project. Not content to spend months writing and recording an album, then waiting for management to put together an appropriate media package so they can tour relentlessly to promote said album, Guillemots are creating four, yes four, albums this year. At least they plan to. In a self admission of guilt, they acknowledge that the first of these seasonal albums, ‘Hello Land!’ was ‘late’, not hitting the streets until May. Recorded in Norway about an hour north of Oslo, ‘Hello Land!’ is evocative of the craggy, isolated, surreal beauty found in that Nordic country. The band described the village where they hunkered down as their own private Narnia. Ever interested in experimenting with their sound, the album is clearly a departure from their offering from last year, ‘Walk the River’.

I initially thought that each of the four albums would be more like EPs, shorter and with slightly less polished. That notion was supported when I saw that the first album had only eight songs and the first was a very short instrumental introduction. But with the remaining songs averaging over 6 minutes, there are no shortcuts here. It’s full of meaty, albeit dreamy tracks that were fashioned with love and attention. But clearly their days of ‘wild’ experimentation are behind them.

‘Hello Land!’ opens with an instrumental piece that highlights the talents of the Norwegian Flute Ensemble to give an ethereal quality that sets the tone of the album. This type of orchestral element is planned for each of the four releases this year. Local brass band Jaren Hornmusikkforening is also featured on tracks throughout the album. The album takes us on an upward trajectory of otherworldly tracks to its pinnacle, ‘Outside’, where there is return to the more familiar Guillemots sound. The remaining three tracks take us back down, with one of them being the extended, 9-minute instrumental track ‘Byebyeland’, before closing with the pulsing ‘I Lie Down’. But the stand out track is ‘Southern Wind’. Calling to mind the lonely windswept mountain peaks of the Norwegian village where it was recorded, the song speaks to making your own way in life. Complete with the crackle of a fire and the whistle of a kettle, the track winds through the completion of the pensive portion of the album.

I can see how fans of their previous works could see this atmospheric collection as an unwelcomed departure from what they love about Guillemots, but growing and changing is the hallmark of a maturing band. Perhaps the second in the cycle will show us something entirely different again. With the craft they put into this first album, I’m a little skeptical that we will see three more albums in the next 5 and a half months, but I could be very wrong. There may be another one right around the corner.

7/10

‘Hello Land!’, one of a purported four releases this year from Guillemots, is available now. Download album track ‘Fleet’ from this previous MP3 of the Day post.

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