Exile On Mainstream excitedly welcomes German quartet GAVIAL to the label, and is preparing to release the band’s new LP, VOR.
The story of GAVIAL began nearly fifteen years ago as a project adapted from a Nirvana song and pun as “Two Red Boys.” Having released three albums as Tourette Boys, two collaborations with UK-based blues musician Tim Holehouse, and a split EP with labelmates Gaffa Ghandi, the band played countless gigs and tours with bands like Acid Mothers Temple, Dyse, Gaffa Ghandi, The Skull, True Widow and Sleepy Sun. This musical project is based on friendship even though the musicians live in different cities. The vast and untouched landscapes between Berlin and Dresden may have contributed to the inspiration for the sound of the band, which repeatedly tries to ground Psychedelic abstraction in modern blues. The result is more reminiscent of the desert rock that we know from the vastness of Arizona than the urban hustle and bustle in big cities. Shimmering soundscapes, partly dark and melancholic, then again full of hope and glaring light filled with the comforting, but nonetheless ominous heat of the desert – GAVIAL remains true masters of that.
It’s 2023, and it’s time for a turning point… on multiple levels. With VOR, the band’s fourth album is for the first time distributed on a label, uniting with their friends at Exile On Mainstream. For the recordings in 2022 the band grew from a trio to a quartet, and with that move comes the name change that was long overdue, which the band explains by stating, “In the last few years, we frequently discussed our music, videos, and name and tried to reflect on our decisions during that time. Concerning the name of the band, we have come to the decision that it is no longer appropriate to continue using it. Affected people deserve respect and we think that this band name shows a lack thereof. For that, we want to apologize.”
VOR is once again characterized by the search for a contemporary expression of the blues without questioning its authenticity. GAVIAL weaves musical inspiration from ambient, soul, gospel, and country into different threads from a carpet of sound that simply ignores the sharp cliffs of redundant categories such as retro or stoner. The music doesn’t need name dropping, but if you still want to make room in your thematically sorted record shelf, you’re welcome to make some room in the compartments in which you put your Screaming Trees, Flying Eyes, Black Crowes, or Woodcocks, so that GAVIAL can find space in them. Sorted alphabetically, VOR also cuts a fine figure between Gaffa Ghandi, Geraldine Fibbers, and Giant Sand.
Lyrically, GAVIAL is cautiously concrete, exploring the ambivalent depths of the soul where there are more questions than answers. Singer Benjamin Butter intones lyrical sketches of emotional states between melancholy, quiet anger, and hope, reminiscent of Charles Baudelaire, and turns the voice into another instrument. The interplay with driving bass lines and Americana-esque guitars results in music as it should be: melodic but not profane, accessible but with a fragile base.
VOR was recorded in the band’s rehearsal room and mixed by Benjamin Butter and Bernard Camilleri, who has become their go-to sound engineer. Bernard Camilleri did the mastering at his Xekillton Studio in Malta. The artwork is from the Flowers Of Terrible series by Berlin-based artist Hamid Yaraghchi.
Exile On Mainstream will release GAVIAL’s VOR May 19th on Black Vinyl LP and digitally, and a limited CD version will be made available at the band’s concerts.
Stand by for audio previews, videos, preorders, review copies and more from VOR to be issued over the days ahead.