Moon Lagoon by Co-Pilgrim

Release date: June 3, 2017
Label: Farm Music

I have followed Co-Pilgrim from the fringes for a few years. One of my music pals really digs them, so when the opportunity arose to review this, I decided to jump on it. Co-Pilgrim is Mike Gale along with a Winchester/Oxford musical collective. This is their fourth album in 4 years, so we can add ‘mighty prolific’ to the ‘optimistic recluse’ tag that the band’s press release bestows on Gale. Music writers like to assign labels, but I am hard pressed to exactly describe what this music is in my mind. Certainly, it’s dreamy and it’s moody in spots, but it mostly sports an upbeat feel to it.

The band’s Bandcamp page calls them ‘eclectic indie-alt-prog’. OK, that works too. Have it be whatever suits you when you hear it. It’s best to keep an open mind and heart when latching onto music. Farm Music is a new label run from Farm Music Studio in Oxfordshire, and though the studio has recorded many acclaimed alternative albums, this is the label’s first release. Opening track ‘Turn It Around’ is both fragile and tough, which is hard to explain. There is a gentle acoustic guitar and then it’s all swept up into some fuzzy guitar pyrotechnics and it really kicks into high gear. ‘You’ll Look Pretty As a Picture When the Acid Rain Hits Ya’ has cute spoken backing vocals and an offbeat main melody. Then it morphs into swirling dream pop with warm rushes of organ and pretty harmonies. It’s got a very late 60s, early 70s feel to it, one that is welcome when all the radio ever plays is bombastic hard rock of the worst sort.

‘Cylindrical Fire Escapes’ is my favorite tune here, and it’s the first single. It shows off the talents of producer and multi-instrumentalist Joe Bennett, who adds a bell-like cadence and ethereal air that shrouds the tune in a delicate web of sound. It’s atmospheric and the percussion is almost like a heartbeat. The title track is like a long lost new wave tune with a Pixies edge, quite different from the other songs here. ‘Thank My Stars’ is maudlin and channels a bit of Lou Reed circa the sleepy bits of Third. Another winning tune!

‘I’m Not a Wallflower I’m the Wall’ is pretty, baroque pop, and some of the vocals almost seem like Tom Petty and George Harrison are shadowing Gale, and I mean that as a high compliment! I love the keyboards on here, sounding almost like an antique stand up piano is being employed. ‘Digging Holes In The Whites Of Your Eyes’ (cool title) slithers into dreamy psych meshed with a retro West Coast vibe, and Gale invokes an otherworldly VU feel. ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Dance’ is the peppy album closer, with syncopated guitar, cool percussion, and boppin’ brass. A very cheerful coda to this fine, somewhat left of center pop record.

Recommended for all fans of Gale’s solo work and older Co-pilgrim albums as well as those who enjoy finely rendered dream pop.

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