Review: Gabriel Saloman – Adhere

There almost the sense that if you peeled away the agitation and serrated edges from an album like Yellow Swans’ Going Places, then an album like Adhere would lie somewhere beneath. Saloman seems to have carried through his old project’s sense of wondrous breadth – the sounds here originate in distant corners and flood across vast spaces, lapping up against large walls as soft, ethereal reverb trails. But Yellow Swans’ will to overwhelm is absent – well, by means of sheer weight and volume at least. These are still some humungous blocks of sound, but in contrast to the likes of Going Places, one is actually exposed to the white flashes of blank canvas behind them; sound isn’t sent crashing down on the listener in oppressive, high-pressure waves, but drifts into their field of perception in a more distinguishable and definitive array of shapes, instrument timbre often left very much intact.

“Part 2”, for example, is essentially a simple duet between piano and the vacant space of silence: it creeps in as the slender shadows of bowed strings or tumbles into view as sudden plonks of keys, intermittently falling into an agonising quiet during which one can imagine the player poised over the instrument in agonising anticipation. The quiet is subsequently prised apart by the reverberant waves of acoustic guitar and violin that indicates the opening of “Part 3”, mimicking the effect of thrusting the curtains open on a room cloaked in dark; an ecstatic sense of relief comes with it, but one that differs greatly from that accompanying the cleansing intensity wash I derive from Yellow Swans.

As the album continues, the duality of strings and percussion feels ever more apparent and intimate. Piano tiptoes between dancing snare drums, while cyclical arrangements of woodblock coax a cloud of violins into greater heights of volume – rhythm is the central force, both as the buzz of string vibration and the recurrent impact of percussion. Reverb is the tool with which these sounds are able to project their voices to grand proportions, blurring one into the other while placing subtle focus on the expansive, cathedral-like space that hosts this instrumental dialogue; it’s primitive and yet mysterious too, with a simple array of elements brought together in a somewhat spiritual, ritualistic manner.