Gabriel Saloman: Soldier’s Requiem (Miasmah)
I think I met Gabriel Saloman at a house party years ago. He was wearing a jean jacket with a really elaborate doily on the back, which I complimented while we exchanged introductions, but it was fleeting, and I had no idea he was the same man serving time as one half of Portland’s Yellow Swans noise project (alongside Pete Swanson) or I’d have chatted him up about music. It turns out he’s also quite prolific and diverse as a solo artist, as well. Soldier’s Requiem is the first of his non-YS material I’ve heard, and it couldn’t be more different. Broken into four distinct parts, the album is a stark and melancholic journey. The first part, “Mine Field,” is the longest and gloomiest, arranged primarily around delicate piano and droning strings. It’s meandering and ponderous, but upon a few listens it reveals itself to have more deliberate form than it might at first seem. In its second half, its tone shifts from pensive and tentative to something darker and more tense. The dynamic changes considerably with “Marching Time,” a three and a half minute clatter of military snare drumming. It’s somewhat of a palate cleanser before the other long track, “Boots on the Ground,” begins with the sound of light rain and delicate guitar. Worlds collide halfway through, with the melodic refrain of the piece kicking into electrified higher gear alongside the same clattering snare of the preceding track, tying it all together in a dramatic display that would make Godspeed You Black Emperor proud. “Cold Haunt” reprises the gloomy final act of “Mine Field,” a dreary comedown from the bombast of “Boots” as well as a thoughtful tie-in to the rest of the album. The overall vibe is apocalyptic and isolated, and while I’m unsure of Saloman’s intentions, I presume it’s an empathetic eulogy to the fallen or a reflection on the hopelessness of war. It may be a far cry from the more visceral noise that generally defined Yellow Swans, but it’s moving in decidedly different ways.