“A Dream Outside” is the debut LP by Gengahr (no reference to the Pokemon character of the same name), a four-piece indie band composed of a youthful quartet from London. After a period of 10 years spent playing together, Felix Bushe et al. manage to deliver a work shining with freshness, eclecticism and talent. A psychedelic fade-in introduces the first notes of “Dizzy Ghosts” and we find ourselves taking the first steps into a fantastic voyage where Bushe’s “lazy falsetto” acts as a magical guide. Guitars break in robust and clear and the song fluctuates between moments of light heartedness and pure rock intention. This stylistic clash is going to be one of the album’s most evident leitmotivs.
The following couple of singles (“She’s a Witch” and “Heroine”), evoking fairy-tale scenarios, never degenerate into mélo and sound instead lyrically naive and unwittingly romantic. Simple catchy melodies will hammer into your brain showing off their impossibility of being consigned to oblivion. This appears to be another Gengahr sound’s strong point. Besides, a cinematographic taste for nostalgic atmospheres is reflected by many different passages like the melancholic guitar-solo in the beautiful “Bathed in Light”. The two guitars set out a constant dialogue between reflective riffs and more energetic strums. At this point the instrumental “Dark Star” ideally splits the album in two. The vocals sound barely outlined like if they were coming from another space and time, the rhythmic section more often gets through a bouncy kind of chilled-out psychedelia and finally attains more vibrant arrangements. “Embers” is in its own small way a masterpiece as it combines Simon & Garfunkel-style ethereal vocals with punk bass-drum lines and experimental distorted guitars. That is absolutely brilliant.
This second side of the album sounds pretty much surreal and hypnotic as if the dream reached its deepest and reveals more cryptic lyrics (“Who’s gonna die/Listen and I’ll be the cool kid”) filtered through a general sense of infantile happiness. For this reason “Lonely as A Shark” is genuine and straightforward like a drawing made by a kid could be. This state of regression to rarefied landscapes comes to its climax in the final “Trampoline”, the song you will hope to hear at the end of any Gengahr concert. Its fake-soul seventy-tasting arrangement let the echoing vocals slip into mellowness and functions as perfect ending credits for this dreaming journey.
When asked about how they would describe their sound in three adjectives, the band hesitates during a recent interview: “lazy, happy…I don’t know”. The third one is hence up to you to be found. Personally I must admit this album really moved me: I’ve found some re-born youthful spirit and an undoubted potential in these guys playing together since the times of school. I honestly can’t remember when was the last time I’ve been humming so many different songs with gusto after listening to a new album. The ability of re-elaborating both indie and alternative rock lessons from 2000s makes “A Dream Outside” a remarkably successful and enjoyable work. Creativity is still alive out there and music’s once again surprising: a young band gets to its completeness of sound way before other well-known artists would ever do in a whole career. Long story short, Gengahr will be a name to remember; and surely not because of that Pokemon.
‘A Dream Outside’ is out on 15th June 2015, via Transgressive Records
The full track-listing for ‘A Dream Outside’ is as follows…
‘She’s A Witch’
‘Bathed In Light’
‘Where I Lie’
‘Fill My Gums With Blood’
‘Lonely As A Shark’
You can see ‘Gengahr’ live at one of the following venues…