As the New Year brings colder weather, I spent some time talking to ambient, epic, cinematic prog-rock band Gilmore Trail, who recently released their first album in five years. We chatted about their latest release, why they chose the name Gilmore Trail, video games, Jackass and more as we warmed up with a steaming bowl of bean chilli.
An extended hiatus can be the death knell for many bands or artists, but it can also be a great opportunity to come back with new ideas. It all comes down to perspective, and that’s something Gilmore Trail aims to do with “Impermanence” – the sequel to their 2015 release, The Floating World. Founding member Joe explained how this latest project came to fruition between spoonfuls of a perfectly spiced house chili.
“It all kind of came together as some things changed in our lives, our relationships and that kind of stuff”
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“And then the whole process came out of the themes of our lives. The Floating World album was named after the Japanese ukiyo-e art style,” Joe explains, before continuing.
“Compared to this almost tranquil style of music, Impermanence is more about revivals and cycles, which kind of influenced the song names.”
‘Impermanence’ is the culmination of a trilogy of comprehensive studio releases for one of Sheffield’s leading instrumental bands. An emotional affair in full swing, recorded and completed just before the pandemic hit.
It was pretty preemptive of what was to come with its themes of change, which if you take into account the last few months it’s a nod to the impermanence of a normalcy that society had taken for granted is quite fair, if only by avoiding the pitfalls of social media, seething anger, fake news and relentless conspiracy theories.
Following the departure of drummer Sam Ainger who left early in the recording process. Enter new percussionist Bob Brown, an old friend, whose input and approach marked a change in the tone of the project.
“Everything has changed in some way, including the name of the album.”
“Sam was leaving and when I discussed it with the guys, I always explain that Bob plays the drums a lot faster, but hits lighter. So it changed the style of music,” says Joe
It wasn’t until we veered our conversation off to that of video games, specifically the N64 and the rising cost of clinging to older memories, that the intent or meaning of the album was explained in simple terms by Bob.
“That’s the whole point of the album, Impermanence, nothing lasts forever. Good or bad. Things come and go…in cycles, just like our urge to play Mario Kart 64”
Bob added, “I don’t know who came up with the name first, but whoever said it, everyone immediately agreed ‘yeah, that’s the name,’ and everything after that we’d say jokingly in our group chats, hashtag impermanence.”
“Every time something good or bad ends, we again refer to the impermanence of things.”
The thing about the music Gilmore Trail creates is that each of their projects is purely instrumental, you can say so much without saying a single word and this trio of albums, neatly capped off with Impermanence, says so much.
To quote the iconic words of Ronan Keating, “you say it best when you don’t say anything at all”. Not exactly the person the band can attribute to their production, but funnily enough, it was a mention that got even more laughs.
“That’s the thing with a lot of instrumental rock,” says Dave, “it can be quite similar. But we wanted to vary the route, keep it interesting, we don’t want our music to be reserved for those who like instrumental or progressive rock.
Each song is a self-contained message, from the personal reflections of a crumbling legacy in Ruins – the video you can see on this page – to the dark undertones of the loss of a loved one to the debilitating effects of dementia in Distant Reflection. Another one of their songs you should listen to is Echoes of Solitude, featuring brooding saxophone, and was inspired by the 52Hz whale… aka the loneliest whale in the world (something worth a Google!).
It’s an album deep in his thoughts, offering moments of hope and reverie, a few of the songs (five to be precise) confidently exceed the 8 minute mark, all without feeling too long at the same time. time. It’s a delicate balance.
Gilmore Trail’s latest album, Impermanence, was released on January 21, 2022. It’s available digitally on all streaming platforms and physically – alongside a vinyl-only bonus track: Origins/Oceans (Live).