reviewed by Richard Whitehouse
Four decades or more since its heyday and progressive (prog) rock continues to be at the thin end of the wedge when it comes to critical respect (if hardly public acclaim), which is unfair to music featuring as much stylistic variation and aesthetic nuance as any comparable genre.
Formed around a decade ago, Hats Off Gentleman It’s Adequate is in essence the joint project of Malcolm Galloway and Mark Gatland – who, between them, have put together a catalogue fairly permeated by imagery of dystopian futures and human catastrophe. Such is evident on this fourth album, Nostalgia For Infinity duly taking its cue from the novels of astrophysicist Alastair Reynolds in which the very notion of scientific ‘progress’ is poised, now more than ever, on a knife-edge between the enhancement of civilization and its wholescale destruction.
Something to bear in mind when traversing a lengthy and impeccably realized album that, if it springs few genuine surprises, is rarely less than appealing in its seriousness and eloquence. While most of these 12 tracks might inhabit a sound-world of resonant synths and mid-tempo rumination – tracks such as Arc, a heady evocation of the triumphs and ultimate tragedy of HMS Ark Royal; Inhibitors, with its imaginatively treated flute from Kathryn Thomas; and Sixth Extinction, in its driving impetus, absorb the mind as surely as they arouse the senses.
Warmly recorded but not lacking in impact, with a booklet that explains the aim behind each track and includes lyrics of those with vocals, Nostalgia For Infinity testifies to the dedication of those who created it and a reminder that progressive need not be at the expense of integrity.