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Forty minutes of woozy delirium with GAPS

"In, Around the Moments"

Release date: 11 May 2015
GAPS In Around the Moments
04 May 2015, 11:30 Written by Phil Gwyn
Cinematic is the wrong word for such an unassuming record, but there’s something unavoidably visual about In, Around The Moments, something that demands predictably vague comparisons to smoke filled rooms and out-of-focus landscapes. It’s that evocative seam that the Brighton based duo of Rachel Butt and Ed Critchley have been mining since their early releases on Sexbeat, and has stimulated a lot of excited chatter about their notoriously immersive live shows, resulting in their signing to house lynchpin Maya Jane Coles’ I/AM/ME records to release In, Around The Moments.

In some ways it could be considered a strange union; Maya Jane Coles is very successfully preoccupied with making thousands of people dance, whilst GAPS craft the sort of experimental ‘folk’ music that invites sullen reflection. Perhaps sincere bobbing of the head, at most. Yet for all their introspection, last year’s collaboration with Coles, In Dark In Day, provided undeniable evidence that there’s a grey area between the two that is capable of baffling head and feet alike; it was hard to know whether to pull out the trusty two step or sharpen the quill for an exploration of light and dark. Even without Coles, GAPS inhabit a previously undiscovered intersection somewhere between Beach House’s airy melodies and the bare, rumbling bass of a Jamie xx track. It’s a pretty stunning place to just stop and take in for a minute, or forty.

There’s no doubt that it’s an ambitious mix of textures; Rachel’s ethereal vocals seem to rise endlessly above throbbing bass lines usually found in experimental electronic music, whilst plaintive acoustic guitars meet indistinct, shimmering production for what sounds like the first time. When all these threads are weaved together, the results are stunning: take album opener "Cascade", which gradually builds into a glistening aggregate of these styles, or the fragile beauty of the pulsating "All Me, All You", which sounds like it was recorded in a state of woozy delirium.

The end result is perfectly disorientating: there’s even a track called "A World Away", which seems unintentionally self referential, but just try not getting tangled up in its glowing bass and the drifting ebb and flow of Butt’s vocals. It’s irrepressibly transportative music, the sort that might see you lose half an hour before you come round, but it also treads that fine line between immersion and listlessness. It might allow you to drift into a pleasant state of inertia, but there are always sly moments of euphoria waiting to drag you back into consciousness, like the almost choral zenith of "Inside Your Head" or the melting, naked refrain of "I know it’s you" that comes at the end of the song of the same name.

There are a few very welcome instances of unease, too, like the stalking guitars and menacing buzzsaw bass of "Keep You", or the scrappy, almost psych-infused rumble of guitars that frame the cathartic "When I’m Gone". These points provide In, Around The Moments with a counterpoint to all of that drifting. They’ve certainly perfected their own very specific sound, but they also aren’t afraid to let it glide down alleys that you find yourself not expecting them to stumble down. That's perhaps not surprising given the space that GAPS have been given to explore those outer reaches of their sound: in announcing GAPS’ signing to I/AM/ME, Coles explained that although she had previously only released her own music on the label, she wanted the label to become a place where “real artists can keep their vision intact.” That creative vision has definitely been fulfilled here; you get the feeling that this is just the clarity-punctuated fog of disparate styles that GAPS wanted to make, and in doing so they really have created something entirely their own.

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