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Galahad Electric Company: When The Battle Is Over

Over the years Galahad - one of the UK’s most underrated and inspiring progressive rock acts - have also released albums under slightly different guises, with the Not All There outing coming from the Galahad Acoustic Quintet and the De-Constructing Ghosts album (a remix of the Following Ghosts full band record) being credited to Galahad Electric Company. It’s the latter of those two offshoots which has been resurrected some 21 years later to shine a light on what happens When The Battle Is Over. In essence it’s the duo of Stu Nicholson and keyboard man Dean Baker who have come together for this release, while staying apart, with the results being very much a product of their times. Hence, the battle that’s referred to here isn’t one being fought in trenches or above us in the skies, but right here in our houses, on the streets and through our very actions. In fact it would be fair to suggest that the first half of this album is a direct result of, comment on and path from the skewed social landscape we have been presented.

That could come across like a dowdy concept and yet through - as the moniker suggests - an electronic soundscape, these two Galahadeers really have dug deep to provide thought provoking lyrics set to invigorating, varied and engaging sounds. For those of us who found De-Constructing Ghosts to be a fun, if in places impenetrable diversion, the difference is stark here. In all honesty, across the intervening years Galahad have quite organically added more and more electronic, ambient and in places dance inspired elements into a sound that still pulls from neo-prog for inspiration, while adding numerous twists and meanders. Hence, When The Battle Is Over feels much more like an extension of Galahad the band than I initially expected.

The sound of nature invites us on the journey as “Restoration” offers a low key introduction but as it builds into the album’s title track, so guitars strum and ‘drums’ add a low end thump to a melancholy piece where Nicholson’s enigmatic voice questions where we are, where we’re going and how we escape the current days. “Be Careful” cautions political and personal decisions through a deeply affecting spoken voice, a surging synth backing that’s punctuated by smacks of electro-drums and swathes of melancholy melody. In ways it’s as though Pet Shop Boys and Jean Michel Jarre bumped into one another as they carried the weight of the world on their shoulders and aided each other to pick up the pieces.

With “All That Binds Us” adding an eerie edge to themes that have come before and one of Nicholson’s unsettlingly engaging vocals, the building threat of instrumental (well, Nicholson adds wordless voice instrumentation along the way) “The Inquisition - Intermezzo” brings the curtain down on ‘act one’, as it were. The impact is mighty and even more so when the five tracks that make up the ironically titled “Suite 2020” are presented as one interconnected piece as a bonus track on some versions of this album.

With the concept complete you would then be forgiven for presuming that ‘side two’ here is the poorer relation and yet with the Rendezvous era Jarre of the bass-synth booming “Letting Go” declaring a decidedly accessible, if moody, side, nothing could be further from the truth. Remove the spiralling vocals from “Mysterioso” and you’re left with something that Vangelis might have conjured if he’d been left in The Beatles’ strawberry field, whereas “1976” - a celebration of a year that Nicholson clearly tells us is not to be forgotten - adds a shimmering, nostalgic air to proceedings.

“My Orcha’d In Linden Lea” reinterprets a 19th century Dorset dialect poem by William Barnes in a way the original author could never have imagined all those years ago and while the poet may have been shocked to hear the results, doubtless he would have appreciated the closing cut of “Open Water” where a piano/synth-string backing lays a deep foundation from which the lyrics sung movingly by Nicholson are given prominence enough to truly hit home. And that is a trait here, Dean Baker creating some forceful yet considered pieces that truly shine in their own right, but which still leave more than enough room for voice and lyrics to say and sing their piece.

Unlike the previous Galahad Electric Company effort, I’m very confident that Galahad fans will immediately connect to what this clearly talented pair have conjured. When The Battle Is Over may well be a reasonably clear extension of the ‘day job’, however, it is also a bold step into a different and fully realised world. Not many good things have come about because of the current global situation but this insightful and thoughtful release is one such thing.

Track Listing
1. Restoration (Intro)
2. When the Battle is Over
3. Be Careful…
4. All that Binds Us
5. The Inquisition (Intermezzo)
6. Letting Go
7. Mysterioso
8. 1976
9. My Orcha’d in Linden Lea
10. Open Water

Added: October 18th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Galahad @ bandcamp
Hits: 1309
Language: english

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