In 2017, Gazelle(s) released There’s No One New Around You, an emotionally complex debut that cleverly transported audiences to a variety of dusty, rarely visited shadowlands somewhere along the edges of post-rock, prog, and math.
Even at it’s most reserved, the album paid visible homage to a wide variety of influences from Russian Circles to Mogwai through crushing bass tones, heavily-effected guitars, and soaring string sections. But just underneath the surface, a wide-open and eclectic range of experiments that range from glitch, Krautrock, and country-western end up contributing to something far more important than aesthetic window dressing: a sense of identity.
All of this to say, that when the Gazelle(s) entered the studio last year to record their follow up album with Brandon Eggleston, (Helmet, Modest Mouse, tUne-yArDs) they would need no help at all when it came to keeping fans wondering what might come next. Be that as it may, the band was actually about to get more help than they could have possibly imagined in the form of none other than former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.
“It was kind of an IOU to Brandon, because his band Giants in the Trees were going on tour, and they had worked together before. He was like, ‘Brandon can you do live sound for us these five or six days?’ and it was right in the middle of our first booking with him,” explains guitarist Tim Jim Smith.
But then Brandon received an email. One asking if the band would be open to having Krist guest feature on their album in exchange for rescheduling their studio time. Needless to say, the band made it work.
Featured on two tracks, Novoselic can be heard playing the accordion in “Clemency for the Heathen” and acoustic guitar in “Ruffians.” It’s also worth noting that he’s far from alone. Listeners will also be able to pick out features from ambient/electronic stalwart Amulets and experimental drone contemporary Bus Gas. When asked if the band went in to the studio with guest collaborations in mind, Tim expressed that they happened naturally without much planning in advance.
“No, well… maybe, actually. We played with the idea of getting somebody to do vocals, but with that, we never really found what we wanted. Working with Amulets was mostly Neil’s idea, he did it behind our backs. But he got him to record something and showed up with it, and then we got the Krist call, so then we were like, let’s just do it.”
“Neal and I also have this mutual friend from Nebraska named Eric Nyffeler, whose a poster artist and illustrator that does music under the name of Bus Gas. He’s on the last track, and he actually came into the studio because he lives in Portland. He texted us, like ‘you guys recording? can I come over?’ and did a huge loop from his Ditto straight into the mix. ”
Warparty,” the band’s rambunctious new single, premiers above complete with a time lapse unveiling the title of their new album True Meridian, not to mention it’s original artwork. And if the song is any indication, Gazelle(s) seem fully intent on taking listeners even closer to the otherworldly intersection of Americana-tinged doom and off-kilter progressive rock.
Yet somehow, bassist Neal Williams confirms a relaxed nature in the sessions, despite all the excitement.
“It was chill, everything felt good, it felt… doable. I was adding some synth stuff towards the end after some people went home and that was a little stressful, coming up with parts on the fly because we only had a certain amount of time left, but it was fine.”
It also marks their first time recording with new drummer Matt Kaplowitz, whose nimble arrangements bring to mind the scores of science fiction westerns like Firefly, Westworld, or even the original Borderlands game, making him an ideal rhythmic companion here. “Warparty” shares basic DNA with what we’ve heard before from the band, but equipped with greater levels of self-awareness, and even sharper teeth.
As Gazelle(s) once again mischievously keep all expectations at arms length, we promise we won’t be surprised when they tell us to expect the unexpected from the rest of their new release.
But we will be excited to go wherever they feel like taking us throughout that artistic journey.
Check out Gazelle(s)’ Bandcamp page where starting this Friday, you can pre-order the new album and receive an immediate dual download of “Warparty” and an additional bonus track.