Hats Off Gentlemen, It’s Adequate – Broken But Still Standing

HatsOffGentlemenIts-BrokenbutStill

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate is a proggy, funky, defiant and sometimes poignant London, UK based rock band.  Broken But Still Standing is their third album and has a science fiction / science theme.  It follows the story of human evolution, from LUCA, the last universal common ancestor of all current life on earth, via Lucy, one of the possible precursors of our species, to conflict and eventual symbiosis with artificial intelligences. The general theme of the album is that life has progressed by forming coalitions, whether between the primitive cells that engulfed each other to become the cell and the mitochondria (the power stations of the cell), between individuals to form communities, or between different forms of life in the future.

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate’s previous album ‘When The Kill Code Fails’ was recommended by Steve Hackett (Genesis) and was Beastie’s Rock Show’s Prog Album Of The Year

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate are Malcolm Galloway, on his own, or with his colleagues Kathryn Thomas (flute), Mark Gatland (bass), Rudy Burrell (drums) and Ibon Bilboa (guitar). They are based in London, UK.

Malcolm and Mark have been playing together since they were at school. Malcolm and Kathryn are married (to each other). This album also includes spoken word and backing vocals from their children James and Ethan Galloway, and James co-wrote two of the tracks.

The album starts with an ethereal soundscape Vent which sets the tone for the album.  You can imagine you are drifting through space and time.  The use of the flute adds a melancholy feel, enhancing the otherworldliness of this track.

Almost Familiar has prog at its heart and is a sumptuous, multi layered track.  The guitar tones have a slightly Eastern feel whilst the flute glides in, wrapping the drums and vocals in a shroud of mystery.  The balance is spot on here between the intricate guitar work and the other instruments.

Luca to Lucy is an instrumental track with an eerie feel, deep and echoing , picking up in lightness about half way through as though the journey is reaching its goal.  Lucy has the bass flute as the lead instrument and this provides a deeply, rich base on top of which the other instruments shine.

Telling the story of the last explorers being stranded on Mars Last Man on the Moon has dark overtones from the drums and guitar.  The backing singing reinforces the feeling of desolation and is oddly metallic in feel, promoting the strangeness and sense of disassociation.

The instrumental Advancing on Snailback provides an ambient, moving track, that you could imagine being played in a Si Fi movie.  .Anywhere, by contrast, has a blues feel, the drums add real interest here with the guitars bringing additional texture.  The drums add the feel of the instrumentation to this track with their clicks and out of time beat.  As the lyrics wind round and round the phrase, “I guess we’re not going anywhere”  and enhance the sense of frustration and fatalism.

One day wrestles with the conundrum that humans have always fought each other and how much better civilisation could be if we were to work in harmony.  This track has a lighter feel and is almost buoyant and ebullient, which is due to the underlying melody that is really catchy and gets your toes tapping.

I fell in love with a mechanical dragon is a statement about how wedded we are to machines and technology and cannot seem to survive without an emoji.  With keys and guitars this  track has a great beat, the guitar riffs in the middle section pierce and sing.  Let me out, with its harder, rock influences, has a driving bass line adding the depth whilst the flute supply’s the shimmers, telling the battle between acceptance and defiance.  The build up comes from the drums and deeper guitar tones.

Under the skin features spoken word over a beeping and popping background.  The deep, fuzzy bass brings the darkness to this track.  You can almost hear the alien population at work. Continuing with the alien imagery Lucid Assassin builds on this, with its electronic influences and poignant sounds.

Broken but still standing til I fall is a thumpingly good tune with raspy riffs over.  All alone together tells of the disassociation, whether this be humans or AI.  The track has a poignancy which fits well with the dark mood created by keys and guitars.  Also, the vocal tone fits in splendidly with the deep sense of misery and isolation.

Telling of the demise of humans and AI machines on Mars Host conjures up hope as the machines determine to change the landscape in order to clone humans for future generations. Transient stars is an instrumental track where the guitars and keys add shimmers and sparkles of light that reminded me on the night sky, whilst there is darkness lurking it is kept at bay by these beautiful moments.

Close my eyes is the closing track and tries to balance the age old dichotomy should we form a coalition and move forward or will the destructive nature take over.  The vocals have a sorrowful element, whilst the drums create texture from their military style beat.  The spoken voice thanks us for taking the journey, whilst the vocals emotionally cry “I’ve given up, giving up.”

This is an album that would appeal to anyone who loves Prog music and also those whole like their music to tell them a story.  The instrumentation is clear and performed really well.  There are some very moving tracks telling the story, not only of a fantasy into the future but of the here and now.

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