I first heard Hat’s Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate performing at HRH Prog festival, where I was photographing for the band Hawklords and they were one of my favourite acts of the day. The band consists of Malcolm Galloway on vocals and a wide range of other instruments, Mark Gatland on bass, keyboards and backing vocals & Kathryn Thomas on flute. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from the album as the band was quite new to me – and in exploring their studio back catalogue revealed a fuller, more complex sound than their live, stripped-back set.
Although progressive at its core, the band combines this with electronic, classical and experimental styles. For this album, their unique style is combined with science fiction themes – some of which is based around the books of Alastair Reynolds.
Fusing together the space rock hooks with progressive elements that would not be out of place on a Steven Wilson album, with the more classical electronic sounds of musicians like Vangelis is no mean feat. Not content with this, the music also takes a bit of a turn into more contemporary drum loops and patterns but with constant classical influences weaving in and out. Kathryn on flute really adds depth to the sound and amplifies the emotion that can be heard in Malcolm’s voice throughout.
Songs like Nanobotoma delve into the idea of rogue nanobots, designed to cure but replicate out of control creating a deadly machine cancer. Themes like these may seem like science fiction, but like all good fiction, it’s close enough to reality that they could become science fact.
We get the faster, harder tracks broken up by the more ethereal, otherworldly moments such as the instrumental Conjoiners, the perfect interlude before the heavier and more experimental Scorpio. For me, some of the best moments are it’s more abstract ones – Inhibitors evokes emotion and paints an alien landscape that is just out of view with its seemingly chaotic synthesizers and flutes constantly on the edge of something more defined.
Like the title song Nostalgia for Infinity, which is about the fusion of man to machine, captain to spacecraft there are some parallels that can be drawn to the band here. A blend of the old with the new, the natural with the electronic.
At times challenging with dark and otherworldly themes, with songs that reveal more as the layers are peeled away a light-hearted, happy album this is not. This is an album that rewards repeated listens as your mind starts to comprehend and make sense of some of the more complex moments, but keep listening and you may just grasp a little bit about the future we could inhabit. Ultimately if you enjoy the more progressive side of rock, with its fusion of genres and some great soundscapes then this album is for you.
Release Date: 6 May 2020
Available to pre-order from bandcamp