Mike Gangloff – Evening Measures

4 out of 5

Label: VHF Records

Produced by: Mike Gangloff, Joe DeJarnette

A hop over from his later-day work with Pelt and Black Twig Pickers comes Mike Gangloff’s 2022 solo album, Evening Measures. The resonant fiddle which forms the core (entirety?) of the album gives the compositions a down-home vibe more in line with Twigs’ traditionalist offerings, but presented in a broad and more open-ended pace familiar to Gangloff’s long-running drone / experimental band. However, there’s a very direct emotionality to the works – an intimacy – that makes them fitting for a solo journey, even when reinterpreting one of those traditionals – as on Wild Geese Chase, the album’s only non-original, rendered in striking swipes of notes. 

The bookends of the album are absolutely its richest songs: opener The Other Side of Catawba is a dense crawl through contemplative tones which spread put and condense masterfully under Gangloff’s hands, the song swinging back and forth between light and dark; fast and slow; a looping theme tying it all together. The tracks that follow take that same (or a similar) theme and break it down in slightly more minimalistic ways; this is a bit of a repetitive stretch, and kind of a risky move in that sense, but the reformatting of similar progressions does encourage one to examine the songs from different emotional perspectives, and it pays off even moreso when we get to the B-side, jumping in with the juxtaposing kick of the cover track, backed up by Gangloff’s own pepped up take on a traditional – that is, Wild Geese Chase is his interpretation of something pre-existing, then New River Suite, the followup, is Mike crafting a new tradition. This weaves a celebratory thread on the B-side, carried to closer Halfway from Shawsville, which is as sonically dense as the opener, but flips its dour mood into something sweet and reflective, fitting for a tribute to the artist’s town.