It has become increasingly more apparent that, since the turn of the century, landmark albums that have left a definitive mark on listeners and received the acclaim of a “modern classic” are ones that can be indulged in more and more with each listen. Such examples such as ‘Halcyon Digest‘, ‘Sung Tongs‘ and ‘Sea of Change‘ successfully absorbed and immersed their audience, not just through it’s relatable lyricism but in delivering cleverly wrapped and layered sonics, that exude as much emotion as the word placed upon it.
Falmouth emits a calm serenity, an influential nature that flows through it’s inhabitants and has produced broad creativity within it’s lines. While an invigorating garage-rock community deservedly thrives, more ambient, slow-burning sounds have begun to emerge, exposing an entirely different quality of the dock-town. Currently enveloped in the ethos of developing deep, rewarding output are Sam Gillbanks and Hugo Heaverman, the duo behind Gillbanks.
Emerging from within the music courses at Falmouth University in 2010, Sam Gillbanks was a member of math-rock / dance-punk four-piece Little Leagues, who along with Tiger Years (Jack Wolter of Cubzoa’s former band), Chinese Sky Candy and George Club forged a collective of groups that delved into thought-provoking production and instrumental dynamics. Hugo Heaverman took on drum duties for Tom Ward, the man behind Alfresco Love Sounds. Meeting through Ward, the duo decided to work together, after simply having a chat in the pub. Gillbanks and Heaverman began on the project with the working title ‘Eardrum‘, conjuring the idea of making a full-length album. Six months later and ‘Lived-In‘ is here, the title suitably resembling the time and consideration taken by the duo in making the record, not at all with negative connotations.
“I‘ve taken a lot of time on it to make sure that it’s the best it can be. That way I’ll be happy with it and can move on to the next thing. We scrapped a few songs and then wrote other ones too so that’s what made it take a while really. But there was no rush. What is more important is to get it right.”
Gillbanks sound, when heard over a full-length, is a rich one. Driven by the emotional qualities of US indie rock, the duo experiment with the genres tendency to evoke an almost cinematic rhythm structure, the calming melodies of new single ‘Loosen Up‘ and the quiet / loud dynamic of their first, ‘Anxious’, are immediate, compelling and display the duo’s penchant for testing different structures. Whilst crafting within pop-frames, they indulge in ambient, divergent tones and atmospheric production that further exhibits an emotional value to their music.
“When writing some of the album i really had the intention of creating an atmosphere for the listener, but making them feel unsettled. I don’t want the listener to know exactly what is coming but I also didn’t want to be too out there. I kind of took the approach of wanting to write good pop songs but with an aggressive yet atmospheric feel”.
Whilst demonstrating an emotive conscience sonically, Gillbanks finds a parallel balance within their lyricism also, the record driven by it’s themes of frustration, anxiety and elements of escapism.
“I would definitely say I find it easier to express emotion sonically, but I feel it’s about getting a good balance of word, delivery and the music behind it. Creating emotion in music is what it is all about so it’s something I really try knuckle down and get right, I am still learning though.”
As much as Gillbanks himself took an introspective approach to writing his words, an element of relation with those who hear his music was an important influence in the direction he takes.
“I mainly drew from my own personal frustration. I know it sounds cheesy but making music has been an outlet for that. I feel that these issues are extremely common in people who are of a similar age bracket to myself. Deep down everyone is frustrated in one way or another so I thought it’d be something people would be able to relate too.
“I don’t want them to think it’s about myself, i want the listener to feel it’s about them and they can relate to it.”
‘Loosen Up‘ typifies their sentimental essence. A loop of casual, clean rhythm and easing percussion carries a reverb-drenched melodic line, evoking an idyllic sense of tranquility, while Gillbanks nonchalantly coos visions of ventures, almost pleading for an exciting escape. Added elements of ominous cello and the layered beauty of each harmony that arrives establishes their propensity for experimentation, consistently surprising.
‘Lived-In‘ is a record of deliberation and examination, not just in the development of musical determination, but in the discovery of one’s psyche. Through their work on the project, Sam Gillbanks and Hugo Heaverman are uncovering the balance between sonically-expressed emotion and lyrically-divulging introspection, a direction that those afore-mentioned “modern classics” took and left us positively enlightened. Don’t be surprised if this record has the same sort of effect.