REVIEW: Daniel Gillett – Moorland

One thing that is immediately apparent on Daniel Gillett’s album “Moorland” is the influence of classical and renaissance music, even when Lutes and Mandolins, give way to synths and pads, the music has a distinctively old fashion vibe.

The closest musical genre that could be attributed to this release is somewhere between Prog Rock, Baroque, and Dungeon Synth, while never sounding like a parody of either. Songs seamlessly flow from jaunty tunes to electronic ballads in a way that’s always exciting.

Daniel follows a lot of the same production stylings as Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, his soundscapes and filled the brim with sounds, hardly ever leaving empty spaces. Slots are meticulously filled with an array of eclectic instrumentation.

The albums highlight is track no. 2 “Trip”, an eight minute synth-driven journey from renaissance plains to starry skies, its surf-rock inspired slowly melts away into an ambient dungeon-synth piece that wouldn’t sound too out of place on the soundtrack of games like Runescape, a slow lulling melody that gradually fades into silence.

Whats followed next is “On My Roof”, reminiscient of bluegrass and appalachain folk, it too manages to mix multiple styles in a short period while never allowing the transition to be jarring. Unlike the songs before it, this track prominently features woodwind instruments, letting the second movement of the track be carried by them. If I had any gripe with this track is that it never lets the smaller parts of itself shine, ideas are given breath but quickly smothered out by the next one to come.

The second and last major highlight of the album is track no. 4 “Stormclouds”, a lyrically driven tale of slaying underground monsters, Daniel Gillett sings in a hushed, twangy tone, accompanied by a sparse backing. Its tonal shift is one of soaring guitars and hard rock drumming, its a fast paced and energetic epic.

After this the album falls into a rut, 5 tracks inspired by Medieval and Baroque music, these 2 to 3 minute long medleys are relaxing, atmospheric and well made but lack the spontenaity of the tracks before, it seems as though Daniel gave up on his own idiosyncracies in favor of tracks that conjur images of renaissance festivals and dancing gypsies.

I have very few qualms with this album, I believe that it would benefit greatly from a redistribution of tracks, so that either of the stylistic halves wouldn’t overstay their welcome. As it is, this album is a good experiment in outsider music, a mash of genres not likely to have been attempted at this scale before.


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