There’s a break in the heatwave this morning. I’m sitting by my window looking out over Brighton whilst scrambling about organising the rest of the day accompanied by GAPS. I was sent the album unexpectedly and admittedly not knowing very much about the group to begin with. After doing some research I found little more out about them other than they were a duo from Brighton. Which seems odd for a group with another album already under their belt (another if you count a remix album).
As It Is manages to muster up sounds of nature with tinges of folk all under the guise of an electronic band. They have a vocal similar to that of fellow Brightonian Emma Gatrill and ideas that would sit very comfortably on a Jesca Hoop album. It’s a natural vocal sound layered on top of natural sounding, ambient electronic beats.
The songs on As It Is flow into one and I think it’s better to go into the album seeing it as one long piece of music. It’s the subtleties that make it this way. There’s a clear definition of all the songs, but they flow together in a way which makes you miss where one ends and another begins. There are some sharper moments on the album, ‘Shatter’ stands out for having a more piercing drum sound behind it; it’s the only song on there that really demands your attention. The beats are brought a little closer to the front and the sounds are more intense than anywhere else on the album.
I’m not at all accusing GAPS of failing to grab attention with the album. As It Is is very ambient in what it does. It’s quite a soft sounding album where you have to really listen and focus on it to get the most from it. As It Is is an album of details; there’s plenty of moments where a guitar line will enter for about seven or so seconds to then never be heard again. The track ‘Blessing’ for example, where a reversed guitar line will pop up every now and again and then disappear.
You are rewarded for paying attention to the album. There’s plenty in there that you would miss on a casual listen. Having said that I’ve had the album on in the background before and had a different but still very enjoyable experience with it. On repeated listens it starts to sound a little different each time, more comes to the forefront and parts that may have slipped under the radar come forward.
I’m not sure what opinion I have of As It Is. It’s clearly a very complex album and a rewarding listen. But it feels like a lot of its intention is probably going over my head. I feel that it doesn’t click with me personally but there’s no denying that it’s a very accomplished and rich album. GAPS manage to capture a lot of different ideas and they make them all work. I’d never have thought electronic music could go with folk ideas before, but in this case it works very well. For me, the album could have a little more grandeur behind it, but that doesn’t seem to be what GAPS are interested in. Whatever it is, As It Is accomplishes something more than you would expect from a conventional album. It’s something else a little more demanding and that’s something I’ll always welcome.