Malka Spigel – Gliding EP Review

Known for playing in post-punk band Minimal Compact as well as playing in Githead with partner Colin Newman (also of Wire), Malka Spigel’s solo work has earned a loyal following over the last few years.

In the winter of 2012, Malka Spigel played a series of concerts in France and Israel, with a full band, to promote her third solo album, Every Day Is Like the First Day. The performances drew not only on her latest record but also on several of her earlier releases with older tracks (in completely rearranged formats) becoming highlights of the live set and, in turn, laying the foundations for Gliding.

Malka Spigel

Malka Spigel

Immediately following the 2012 dates, Spigel embarked on a studio project with the band. The objective was to revisit those live highlights as a springboard for recordings that would capture the power and dexterity of the musiciansʼ live performances and at the same time channel their creative synergy into new sonic territory.

As always, Spigel gathers an eclectic range of styles. Her signature dubby bassline and a rolling rhythm anchor the harmonically lush Strumgliging. Strumgliging is the introductory track with a wonderful bass riff that runs through all the bones in your body. It has a distinctly summery feel to it. Musically, the sound on this track resembles bands like Feeder. It’s a really uplifting song even with the absence of any ground-breaking lyrics.

Dating from Spigelʼs 1993 solo debut, Rosh Ballata, the Hebrew-language Hacol Zaram Beyachad (featuring Campbell on guitar and backing vocals) is elegant in its simplicity. Hacol Zaram Beyachad vocally is a little bit Sigor Ros, think Hoppipolla. The vocals are gentle, soft and welcoming. This is the sort of music you can have as background music. The foreign lyrics make this song’s meaning entirely irrelevant but even so, it’s pleasant, soothing and utterly irresistible.

Meanwhile, on Tall Grey Buildings, Spigel transforms the austere urban landscape into blissful pop, in the process reinventing shoegazing for 2014.

By contrast, the closer, Dreamwalking is a darker, harder-edged, more mysterious affair with its kaleidoscopic layers of guitar, Mellotron and heavy, distorted bass. Dreamwalking is much more atmospheric than the previous numbers. It’s completely different from other tracks on the EP but it makes for the perfect dramatic closing song for it.

Gliding is a transitional record, or perhaps a prologue, for Spigel: this is very much the work of an artist on the threshold of a new creative cycle, reimagining existing material in intriguing, forward-looking ways, brimming with fresh ideas and pointing ahead in myriad directions.

Gliding features the core lineup of Spigel (bass, vocals), her partner Colin Newman (Wire/Githead; guitar), Ronald Lippok (To Rococo Rot/Tarwater; drums), Gil Luz (Mambas; keyboards) and Uri Frost (Mambas; guitar). Also making appearances are Matthew Simms (It Hugs Back/Wire; guitar) and Julie Campbell (Lonelady; guitar).

Gliding EP will be released on May 19 via SWIM.

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