Optimistic recluse Mike Gale and his Winchester/Oxford collective return with epic introduction to new alt-prog-pop album ‘Moon Lagoon’.
Farm Music is a new label from Farm Music studio in Oxfordshire, which has been producing a steady stream of acclaimed alternative/independent albums since its inception in the winter of 1999 (alumni include Black Nielson, Goldrush, Danny & the Champions of the World, Electric Soft Parade, The Dreaming Spires, Ralfe Band & Co-pilgrim to name but a few). Cult classic ‘Still Life Hear Me’ by Black Nielson was the first of these, so it’s fitting that the first Farm Music release should be from ex-Black Nielson frontman Mike Gale’s present combo, Co-pilgrim. ‘Moon Lagoon’ will be their fourth album since 2013 – Gale has also released two solo albums and two album collaborations during an astonishingly fertile period – yet there’s no sign of any drop in quality control.
From its opening chords, first single and album centre-piece, ‘Cylindrical Fire Escapes’ hints at the glacial grandeur which is to follow. In addition to Gale’s crystal-clear voice, Co-pilgrim have come to be known for arching melodies, dulcet harmonies and earworm instrumentation, and whilst present and correct here, are augmented further by a hitherto untapped sense of space and ambition; producer & multi-instrumentalist Joe Bennett (Dreaming Spires, Goldrush, Saint Etienne, Danny & the Champs) paints an ethereal soundscape of swirling synths & chiming guitars, driven on by Andy Reaney’s rolling bass and bursts of rhythm from drummer/percussionist Mike Monaghan (Willie J Healey, Gaz Coombes, Man Without Country, Ralfe Band), and transcended at the finale by Claire Bennett’s soaring vocals. The atmospheric production is perfectly represented by visual artist Jussi Virkkumaa’s elegantly tessellating video accompanying the track.
As usual Gale’s lyrical dexterity is to the fore, underscoring a sophistication developed through nearly 20 years of honing his craft as a songwriter, and his ear for a memorable tune is as keen as ever. As a benchmark for the rest of ‘Moon Lagoon’, who wouldn’t want to dive right in?!
“Mike Gale distills sunshine pop classicism into bittersweet songs that channel the warmth of the west coast 70s via deep pile harmonies and layered instruments.” Mojo ****
“Really, really recommend this album, I’ve listened to it non-stop for the past week. Very, very beautiful.” Lauren Laverne ,BBC 6 Music
“Laced with grandiose strings and bittersweet harmonies… Plumes, swoops around your heartstrings” Drowned in Sound
“Marries Jayhawks harmonies to wafting Beach Boys tunes” Q
“This is one of my favourite discoveries” Steve Lamacq, BBC 6music
“I’m gushing aren’t I? One listen to this record and you may understand why. My best of list for the year starts here.” Americana UK 9/10
released April 14, 2017
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