Gabriel Saloman – Movement Building, Volume 1 (Shelter Press, 2014)


You would expect that any solo content from a band member of the monolithic Power Electronics, Noise and Drone outfit Yellow Swans would continue to produce music in a not dissimilar vein in his solo work, and you would be right. What is surprising, however, is that someone would consider Gabriel to be the ideal candidate to score dance performances, which is exactly what we get from his latest LP Movement Building, Vol. 1, to be followed by parts 2 and 3 in the future. And unlike the recent A Winged Victory For The Sullen record it really feels like Gabriel has crystallised some deliberate themes to create a deliciously evolving and strongly thematic performance that doesn’t stray too far from his roots.

The first part of this two-piece, 34 minute album is “The Disciplined Body Pt. 1”, and for me it’s perhaps the slightly sonically weaker of the two tracks even if it is perhaps the most dynamic and compelling (and  because part two is so astonishing). Whilst there is a certain predominance of ghostly and ethereal guitar drone lines in the opening sequences, these fragile and dark sounds make way for poly-rhythmic, tribal percussion to give the piece some propulsion, the precise marching drums providing a certain point of reference and synchronicity for the rest of the track to fall behind. These focused and deliberate bodily rhythms take a break briefly, in which the pause is populated by scratching guitar frets and tiny violins amidst the drone void, joints creaking within the anatomical fray, before progress is resumed in its clockwork ticking over right til the end of the track.

The second part of the album still seems to be about the eternal march of life but I like to think of it as a birthing sequence, one where new life is being spawned and we get to witness its trimesters compressed down into a 17 minute segment. The cool and ghostly, distant processed guitar cruises by in the opening introspections, an uninhabited internal space just waiting for a purpose, slipstreaming effortlessly into wholly warmer and fuzzier movements that begin to expand rapidly; twinkling electronic oscillations advance the pace as the piece grows and eventually a drumline arrives, a steady heartbeat beginning to drive this new organism. The crescendo naturally continues through the length of the piece, new textures unfolding all the time and the pace quickening and becoming more urgent before finally it breaks its restraints and dumps us in a rush of focused and gritty noise, the closing moments a tumultuous and violent climax of Yellow Swans abrasion as we begin to see light at the end of tunnel mingled with the warped screams of birth before nothingness and the abrupt ending of the album.

Saloman’s performance here really is incredibly visceral, as you would expect. There’s definitely an aura of respect and admiration for the human body being exuded here, of its capacity to perform tiny, intricate actions, to pull off feats of strength and pin-point timing, and of course its ability to create new life capable of performing all those amazing tasks on its own. While it seems to possibly present itself as being a dark and harsh record given his track record and the rather bleak nature of the album art, this record is actually a rather touching and hauntingly existential piece that praises the various facets of the human form, putting it all into a texturally meaty package that’ll have you coming back for more and more.