I love stumbling upon hidden gems. A couple months ago, I randomly saw a post about a band named Gammalon, and the cover art was beautiful (I’m a sucker for that). As I listened to the album, called “Into the Half Light”, I could not believe that the artist hadn’t been spread far and wide in our community. The album originally released a few years ago, but is back for a re-release this year, with another album releasing relatively soon, as well.
At first glance, Gammalon is a bit of a mystery. They hail from the US, and their website lists the album credits as: Peter Shen on guitars and keys, Elena on bass and keys, and Gregor Elligsohn on drums, percussion, and sound effects. However, with some digging, you will discover that “they” is really just a “he”, that being Chris Scholtes, guitarist for the Several Species Pink Floyd Experience. It turns out, also, that he actually plays all of the various instruments on this album. With some searching, I was able to find some pictures of him performing (below).
Once you discover that, some of the notes on his website begin to make more sense, such as, “Gammalon is a fictional story that takes place in a dystopian future. In this story, the world is suffering from lethal radiation poisoning, leaving only a few survivors to fend for themselves. Scrambling for their lives, Peter, Arturo, and Elena take shelter in a radio station off the coast of California. By playing music through the radio broadcasts, the group attempts to make contact with the outside world. The songs depict experiences, thoughts, and emotions of each of the characters as they struggle to survive.” As you can probably guess, all of Gammalon’s albums are set in one expansive, post-apocalytic story. I noticed that the website also includes descriptions of each song, not only where it fits in the story, but also what sorts of instruments and musical theory were used to construct them.
Chris is, to say the least, unconventional in how he does things. He isn’t on social media (yet), for instance, but his website is extremely flashy and multi-featured, and seems to be updated constantly. Oh, and the cover art on the albums is amazing. I haven’t dealt with a project of this nature before, and so I was honestly at a loss of how to proceed in supporting his efforts.
With all of that said, Gammalon offers music that is worth searching out. The overall sound is progressive rock, but you will hear ambient, electronic, jazz, and metal elements. Some of the songs are majorly electronic, while others are prog rock with retro trappings. All of them are instrumental. In a nutshell, the music sounds similar to Pink Floyd and Rush, but with a Tangerine Dream overlay.
Gammalon’s sound is airy and breezy, like a rush of invisible wind. The spacious atmosphere is soaked with bright melody, sauntering guitars, and voluptuous keys, and almost every song goes through multiple transitions that are handled with care and precision. There are epic finales, giants climaxes, and quiet moments of space and introspection. This album seems to have it all, and the ambition here is palpable.
With eleven tracks and a total runtime of around 67 minutes, this is one monster of a record. It is quite literally impossible to describe it entirely, as each song is different and there is so much ground to cover. Some songs, like “Echodust” parts 1 and 2, feel effervescent and abstract, yet soon transition into subtle rock grooves that feel fresh, and of course they are truncated by sound effects that add depth. Other songs, like “Heading West” and “Perseverance”, feel like journeys (something they are meant to portray), and they are mostly acoustic and rock in sound. The former is more straightforward in design with some bright melodies appearing near the end, but the latter is an expansive 11 minute track that has some haunting and musing portions of electronic subtlety that I really like. It ends up dabbling in metal, too, before launching into a huge finish.
My favorite songs are “Into the Abyss” and “Crossing into the Half Light”. Both of these songs have an alluring presence, one that is crafted with abstraction, intricacy, and tight melody. “Into the Abyss” is maybe the darkest song on the album, feeling hushed and cautious. It doesn’t necessarily get the gigantic climax you’d expect, and that quietude is exactly why it is brilliant. “Crossing into the Half Light” is a genius track with a huge portion of electronica under the hood. There are wonderful guitar licks that echo across its horizon; and, as the song transitions in the middle, a rising tide of melody, acoustic guitars, and sheer energy begins to appear. In those grand moments, Gammalon is validated as something truly special.
“Into the Half Light” is a beautiful album, one that deserves much more recognition. I hope that Chris can launch some social media platforms and get the word out soon, but I promise you that you won’t be disappointed by this release. I can sense the layers of light and wonder within its veins, and I cannot look past that. I encourage you to order a copy at the link below.
Find Gammalon online: