Album Review: Gilmore Trail – The Floating World

Gilmore Trail The Floating World album cover

I love post-rock music, be it the cinematic like Lights & Motion, heavy like Cloudkicker, slow-building like Mogwai, primal like Jakob, or sample infused like Maybeshewill. The reason I love post-rock is because with the exclusion of vocals, bands are freed up from the conventional verse/chorus/verse structure of modern song writing. The focus is on the music, and what can be achieved without boundaries set in place. Rather than using lyrics to send a message, musicians can create lush textural soundscapes that play on the listener’s emotions and evoke memories, feelings and places.

Sheffield based quartet Gilmore Trail are no exclusion. Named after a popular Alaskan track traveled to view the Northern Lights, Gilmore Trail capture a sense of grandeur and wonderment. The Floating World is their second album, due out on the 16th of May.

Gilmore Trail The Floating World press photo

From the sparse piano chords that open ‘Memories of Redfern’, through to the last lingering note of ‘Dusk’, Gilmore Trial ushers the listener into an exciting new world.

Title track ‘The Floating World’ is serene. I imagine it would be the perfect soundtrack if I was on the actual Gilmore Trail, isolated in Alaska and staring up at the mysterious lights in the cosmos. The song starts off by capturing the feeling of being remote in an icy wonderland, interrupted by roaring later on, like a storm blowing through.

Highlight track ‘Ballard Down’ is a 10 minute beauty that begins with gorgeous bass tone, eerie guitars and tribal drumming. After a few minutes clouds start to gather and rain falls softly, signalling a searing new segment in the piece. The one song contains many different moods but they flow seamlessly.

Gilmore Trail have spent time exploring the different timbres of the instruments used in this album. For example, during ‘Waveless Shore’, drummer Sam Ainger creates contrast by using a flappy, de-tuned drumhead in one section, and switches to a tightly strung skin the next. The samples are also used well, subtle yet effective. Many are recordings of the weather, like wind channeling through a valley, or the rainfall mentioned before. These add to the nature-inspired themes throughout the music.

The Floating World is epic, to say the least. It’s long and expansive without sounding repetitive, conjuring the vastness of nature and the power of the elements. Like nature, the music is powerful: at times peaceful and lightly glimmering with hope, at other times crushing and potentially devastating.

I’ve only given The Floating World a handful of listens so far, but once I get a copy of the album I’ll no doubt revisit it often.

Joseph James