Gold Celeste - THE GLOW [VINYL] - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Gold Celeste - THE GLOW [VINYL]

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2015-09-11

It probably came as little surprise to anyone that Flaming Lips covered Dark Side of the Moon; their experimental avant-pop never signposted that differently from progressive or conceptual rock. Gold Celeste follow approximately in those footsteps. Simen Hallset’s falsetto is similar in character to Jonathan Donahue from Mercury Rev, another hallmark dream-pop indie band. Gold Celeste also count Pink Floyd among their influences. 

The dreamy psych-pop music of Gold Celeste has a fragility about it, sounding like an old shellac long-player struggling to rotate at the required speed. Cranking it up even slightly might cause the internal framework to fracture and come apart. Although melancholy in flavour, the graceful, almost celestial melodies of the music has an uplifting effect, like George Harrison’s earlier work.  

Whilst the band prefer to be seen as ‘exploratory’, the overall result is a beautifully rendered pop album, recorded and arranged exactly as they, the musicians, would prefer it, rather than what the industry machine dictates. In fact, they realised after they started recording that a DIY approach, without professional production, was the way to go, so the album was produced, recorded and mixed in Simen Hallset’s studio by the band themselves. The resonant or thrumming sound, coupled with the slightly recessed vocals, was always the perfect realisation of the album’s musical pretext, a soothing and tranquil summer pop. ‘The Glow’ is as much a metaphor for the musical aesthetic, as the philosophical one. 

The band says that on ‘The Glow’ they wanted to examine the bipolar nature of human endeavour, acting for the common good, as opposed to acting selfishly and with ulterior intent. They cite the dumbing down of society by marketeers, and industry types. Personally, I find this to be a heavy mandate for a pop album. Fortunately, the music is more affirmative of the positive side of the equation. 

There is a slight rapture in Gold Celeste's music, almost evangelical in fervour, but without any hint of happy clappy delusion. These are the sounds of unencumbered and vital young men with an abundance of musical ideas. Tracks like ‘Grand New Spin’ and ‘Pastures’  take a bold approach to song structure, the former beginning with an eerie chorale introducing simply strummed chords wrapped in the warmth and reassurance of Hallset’s vocal, a voice that has a commendable range for a semi-falsetto style, never seeming at all forced, each note caressed and effortlessly tapered. The instrumental interlude, ‘Pastures’ has a 1950s Blue Note Records ornamentation about it, and there’s a perfect example of where a producer may have balked at its inclusion, but for mine its exotic rather than aberrant. 

An excellent debut from a band who have benefited greatly from doing things their way.  


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