Gail: a dreamy and meditative guitar tone improv poem

Jabladav, Gail, self-released, CD-R (2014)

In 2014, after three years of quiet, one-man black metal / ambient act Jabladav released three new CD-R recordings of music. Of these releases, “Gail” is a very intriguing one-track work: it’s not black metal at all but a very beautiful dreamy and meditative ambient tone poem lasting some 19 minutes instead. The main instrument appears to be treated guitar which through frail and fragmented tone drone loops hold the entire track together. The mood is wistful and serene in a melancholy way. The use of spooky drone effects in the background gives a ghostly effect that enhances the nostalgic feel. Twangy sharp echo adds a washed-out psychedelic sparkle.

The formless soundscape unfolds and blossoms slowly and gradually with little apparent layering. The music can appear wavering and watery, and space where everything hovers on the verge of fading into complete invisibility is prominent. If you shut your eyes, you can easily find yourself floating away into a crystal landscape of gorgeous shimmering pale colours fading one into the next, constantly changing and never quite taking on their full, definite hues. As the track continues, the tones become more confident and snippets of melody start taking on form. The ghostly drone wobble might be the voice of a lost soul that has wandered this shape-shifting wilderness for a long time, calling to other beings that might also be drifting through this vast territory.

Don’t think though that this recording is gloomy: there is a definite sunny ambience in parts and the wistful, dreamy attitude is more nostalgic and wondering than brooding. For a short time, you are cast adrift in a peaceful world of beguiling jewel-like shimmer and contemplation.

Had this recording been made by a non-BM artist, it would probably have been classified as experimental psychedelic minimal guitar-based drone improvisation. What a mouthful to say! But given its creator’s background as a black metal musician, “Gail” can be considered an extension of atmospheric minimal black metal into improv and trance. That such a recording sits well within its creator’s genre of origin demonstrates the versatility and wide reach of black metal, and the depth of originality, thoughtfulness and innovation present among individual musicians working in the genre.

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