“In the larger scheme of things, Alog don’t matter. At all. Unlike Nicki Minaj, if their music didn’t exist, the world would be virtually no different. So when writing about Alog, I have no choice but to write about how this music might work for a single person (me), and how these abstract sounds might enrich a single life (mine). That’s where the meaning is found.”
That’s a quote from Mark Richardson, talking about Alog, a Norweigan duo of abstract electronic musicians for a column of his called Resonant Frequency. It sums up a lot of the music written about here for Rare Candy - music not many people have listened to and in all likelihood, not many people will ever hear. And this does make it hard sometimes to write about this music. Certainly it mandates a very different approach than if I were to talk about Minaj’s “Anaconda” this year.
The music’s different because of it too, aware of its makers’ own realistic expectations of low-bar success - a few hundred streams maybe, or a couple digital album sales. It knows it doesn’t have the attention of the whole world, so it doesn’t have to interact with it in the way that “Anaconda” is instantly interacting with dozens of modern cultural issues - musical, social, political, and otherwise.
But I think there’s still some role for talking about how this music exists relative to the larger music world, even if isn’t really much a part of that world at all. I’ve just done it, above. I’m going to continue doing it below.
The Galiano EP is one of these records. There are three sales besides my own listed on its website. It isn’t available to download for free - it’ll cost you a dollar - which pretty much means four people in the world outside of the band own this record. And so one way to approach Galiano in the larger musical scene is as a mini-tragedy: a brilliant and well-produced record that never went anywhere. Another way is to bring it up as commentary of the seeming arbitrariness that governs much of the way the music industry works: talent is often a prerequisite, but far from a guarantee.
Straight up, the EP is one of the best sounding self-produced, self-released, nothing albums I’ve heard. It positively shimmers. You hear it as soon as the guitar and drums come in half a minute into the first track, “The Weekend,” which pans around sophisticatedly and sparsely to brilliant effect. It’s bright and clear while still being warm and not tinny.
The pop hooks are there too. It really is - and I’m saying this again because listening to songs like third track and my personal stand-out “Carnival Talk,” it’s hard for me to believe - a little puzzling that this album never gained any momentum in the slightest over the nearly two years since its release. The arrangements are, similar to the production, warm and well-balanced, smooth and effortless. The tracks are layered well, creating a great texture that occasionally wall-of-sounds but never seems forced. It’s fun, laid back, and upbeat music (which may be part of the problem - there’s very little angst in Galiano) that works well best by the beach without sounding like it’s trying to overly ape traditional and culturally over-saturated surf aesthetics.
But Galiano EP isn’t some kind of classic album, and I’m not trying to hype it up as one. It’s not particularly innovative, and it’s not pushing any boundaries. Not that it has to, necessarily. There are some clear influences, and it’s definitely a comfortable release. The songs don’t necessarily compel me to listen and re-listen to them on repeat in the same way the immediacy of some of this year’s best underground pop songs certainly did - Deer’s “Bamboo,” Miserable Chillers’ “Bulldozer.” But it’s a good record, it’s a good debut, and it’s a huge tragedy that the project stopped where it did. “No Fun” mixes weird quirky American surf influences with punk chants in a somewhat predictable but enjoyable combination, and “In That Island Sun” more surprisingly combines spaghetti western with World Cup anthem in another effective pairing.
Perhaps the familiarity and comfort of the Galiano EP is a large part of what doomed it from the beginning. It’s a good record, again, and one I think you should listen to. But it never compelled me to send it to everyone I knew with a three-hundred word endorsement upon hearing it. It’s an album I think you have a high likelihood of enjoying, maybe even enjoying a lot, and maybe you’ll end up downloading it and becoming world owner number four. But I don’t know if you’ll ever fall head-over-heels in love with this record because it just doesn’t take enough risks. It’s that guy you date who’s great, and stable, and loving, but maybe not exciting enough or rocky enough for things to ever run as deep as it could. But don’t let me discourage you from checking out the album. It’s worth your time.
Listen/Download to Galiano here: https://galiano.bandcamp.com/