Review: Gengahr – A Dream Outside

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70%
70
Very Good

Their debut album, A Dream Outside, is a strong offering from North London band Gengahr.

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It’s difficult to decide what I find the most endearing; that Gengahr named themselves after a Pokémon (with a slight spelling change to avoid copyright issues) or the trippy world I find myself forced into whilst listening to their debut album, A Dream Outside. At just over 30 minutes long, its 11 tracks are tightly packed and over in a blink of an eye but it’s hard not to lose yourself in guitarist John Victor’s psychedelic riffs.

Opener ‘Dizzy Ghosts’ appeared on a debut the band released back in 2013 but this album version has been elevated to new heights. It builds itself up into the pace and sound that lasts through the rest of A Dream Outside.

The following three tracks ‘She’s A Witch’, ‘Heroine’ and ‘Bathed In Light’ have all be released as singles prior to the release of the album. ‘She’s A Witch’ is reminiscent to the sounds of MGMT and is extremely chilled until reaching a wailing guitar solo. Current single ‘Heroine’ has already been plastered all over several radio stations, and it’s not surprising why. The first two minutes of the track effortlessly show the soothing combination of Victor’s gentle building riff and Felix Bushe’s falsetto vocals and create something rather special, and we haven’t even reached the solo yet! ‘Bathed In Light’ is hauntingly beautiful until interrupted by distorted guitars.

By now, Gengahr have shown a formula for their tracks, starting somewhat gently and building up to distorted choruses and solos. ‘Where I Lie’ follows this formula exactly but is a thing of beauty, somewhat lost amongst the other tracks. The outro of this song leads straight into ‘Dark Star’, which is a triumph in itself, offering an albeit short break from Bushe’s vocals, which display a limited range.

‘Embers’ offers something a little different from the other tracks, picking up the pace and showcasing some of the best guitar work on the album. It is an album standout, but whether that’s because it is a bit out of pace is hard to determine.

The following combination of debut single ‘Powder’ and ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ takes us back to a comfortable place. ‘Powder’ is a definite highlight with vocals edging into something slightly sinister. ‘Fill My Gums With Blood’ is another early demo that made it to the album. This time it’s barely been changed from original demo, which is refreshing.

The closing two tracks ‘Lonely As A Shark’ and ‘Trampoline’ feel slightly lost amongst the others and may benefit from an alternative placement amongst the track listing. However, halfway through ‘Trampoline’ we are entertained with a rather striking guitar line which fades the track out beautifully and draws the album to a soft and dreamy close.

The 11 tracks on A Dream Outside are somewhat formulaic and with a limited range of vocals, the album doesn’t leave a lasting impression upon its first listening. However, given a chance to sink in, Gengahr have produced something rather unique and captivating that keeps bringing me back to listen again.

A Dream Outside is out now via Transgressive Records.

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