m g r 22nd of May (CD, £12.95)label: Conspiracy
Mike Gallagher has always gravitated toward brooding, exploratory guitar work. This was evident in the pensive ether and bottom-heavy crescendos of ISIS, and even more prominent in his solo work under the moniker of Mustard Gas & Roses - MGR for short. Unencumbered by drums, bass and vocals, MGR provides a platform to showcase Gallagher’s dark and patient constructions. Employing swathes of delayed guitar swells and looped melodies, MGR uses a few simple elements to create minimalist electric symphonies. There’s a particularly foreboding aura to 22nd of May. The patient tempos, simple repetitive melodies, electric hum of effected guitar, and delicate piano lines suggest various breeds of existential dread. You can hear anxiety in the restrained tension of "The Tedium Before", despair in the oppressive weight of "Crux", paranoia in the unnerving drone of "A Mile In His Shoes", resignation to our mortality in the contemplative melody of "So It Goes". It was this evocative emotional resonance in Mike Gallagher’s work that prompted director Koen Mortier to commission him to score his latest film. But rather than drafting compositions based on the film, Mortier took the unorthodox approach of soliciting Gallagher for music before filming even began so that the actors would perform to the soundtrack. The resulting eight songs comprising 22nd of May are essentially muses, emotional props deliberately crafted to suggest a visual component.
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