Mitch Gallagher

 

Foundation

Five guitar stories not only for guitarists

There are many ways to listen to music. We can focus on sound, arrangement. We can listen purely technically or for relaxation... In a colloquial way or in search of a specific mood and specific emotions...

 

No matter how we do it, we should never be afraid or run away from any kind of music. We should not avoid different genres or styles with which we are not on our way... 

 

Why am I writing about it all?

 

Because every artist teaches and every album develops. 

 

Because the album I want to tell you about today has just taught me that. 

 

It is surprising, smooth and at the same time non-commercial, pleasantly non-commercial...

 

This is an album of an extraordinary man, a veteran who is still searching and inscrutable…

 

You all know him... it's Mitch Gallagher. A man who has a lot harder because his own legacy stands behind him. 

A man who almost immediately associates with good sound, with the best equipment... with hundreds of presentations of various gear, specialist articles, interviews and of course with Sweetwater Sound Inc...

 

Today he appears as an author and as an artist. His latest EP entitled Foundation is a musical journey through everything that has shaped him over the years. 

At the beginning I would like to say that this album is not sewn to a perfect modern measure. Contrary to appearances, it is also not easy to review. The following text will be a chronicle of my observations. A report on what I managed to find out during my time spent with this little album.

 

I will start with the fact that Foundation certainly it is not a material for everyone and contrary to what I will write here, not everyone will decide to reach for it, and it's a pity, because there is really a lot of great music on it, however, at the same time it is a material, that runs against the tide. In spite of today's trends and fashions. 

This record neither chases anybody nor tries to convince those whom it won't manage to convince. It simply fills the room and affects the mood. Foundation has one more value. It perfectly shows where the music is going today and to be more precise, thanks to it you can hear where the music is now and how much it has changed over the years. How inhuman it has become. How predictable, devoid of improvisation and real live studio playing...


The whole starts a bit nonchalantly and unhurriedly... 

 

A moving bass groove and a slightly Latin climate, which gives the work a bit of cinematic charm. From the first sounds you can hear that the core of "Foundation" was played live in the studio. You can hear real amplifiers, a real drummer, playing with form and dynamics... You can hear that the band is well consolidated, however, the song is played quite safely, maybe a bit too safe? At least that's how you perceive it while listening it for the first time, because, when you start thinking that you know how this song will develop, the first solo appears and the whole thing gets more and more interesting. The song starts to breathe, it gets an interesting drive...
Noteworthy is the slowdown in the middle of the song with a great part of the beautifully exposed Hammond organs, after which the composition returns to a regular rhythm and regular dynamics.

 

​The second in the set, "Naturally clean" is build around a recurring, catchy guitar lick, which precedes further guitar shows by Mitch Gallagher and Carl Verheyen (L.A. master session guitarist) . It's blues and it's convincing. Apart from Gallagher and Verheyen, there are also great brasses, great saxophone and bass... Just take a listen to this great passionate ending, filled with solos, and it's only a little pity that the drummer didn't allow himself for more here...

 

​What was missing before, you will get in a moment, because the third track in a large part belongs to the drummer Keith Carlock. "Cascade" is delicate, jazzy, atmospheric and romantic. We have here an interesting progression of chords, beautifully walking bass by Adam Nitti and a clean, delicate sound of Mitch's guitar, sprinkled with Michael Whittaker's piano. Once again we have a brass section (here you have the pleasure of listening to Steve Patrick, Vinnie Ciesielski - trumpets; Sam Levine, Tyler Summers - saxes; John Hinchey - trombone), which perfectly emphasizes the mood and conquers the whole composition. Very well arranged, dynamic piece with noteworthy piano parts. A strong point of the EP, which is worth returning to.

 

"Finch Food" is pure funk, a trip to the middle of the pink seventies. It is faster, although I must admit that after the first bars I expected to get more than I finally got. Funk is associated with freedom, unpredictability and risk, which unfortunately are a bit missing here. Unfortunately, because "Finch Food" is a composition in which you can really go crazy and do something against the established order... Meanwhile, we got here a piece built around a scheme, which (and this is only my subjective opinion) is too often repeated and despite its considerable potential, is not a starting point for a greater improvisation. Of course, this is not a bad track! It has a great feeling and groove,

I just miss a bigger surprise here, a bigger change, something, because of the lack of a better word, more progressive. Some crazy rush, which in my opinion, should take place around the third minute of the song. Something more like Frank Zappa, maybe something similar to the middle part of the unforgettable "Money" from the Dark Side Of The Moon album, where the whole piece suddenly accelerates driven by the great bass figure of Roger Waters, you surely know which part I mean here... Anyway, Mitch decided to use a safe solution here, losing the chance to build a more unique form, a form that could break the order and the mood of the whole album. After such a promising beginning of this piece I expected even more guitars, more surprising twists and a little more marriages of styles… Well, all those who feels the same way can only wait for the live performances of "Finch Food", during which the piece can take on a different form, where its structure can change. After all, who as who, but Mitch Gallagher is unlikely to go on stage with unproven musicians, and at live performances (as we know) studio restrictions do not apply, so... it remains to wait for the information about concerts...

 

The last song entitled “White Iris” is a song you can listen to endlessly. There is something truly special in the leitmotif of this work. This melody has an enduring beauty. It has something that will appeal to every generation of listeners. Even if you are not a fan of such kind of music, listen to this song and you will find out that this motif will surely come back to you. Already during the first listening it will sneak somewhere close and quietly live in a place where you gather everything what you like to come back to. Once again a beautiful progression of chords, wonderful bass and this lovely, charming piano playing underneath the brilliant saxophone performance by Tyler Summers. A truly masterpiece and undoubtedly the strongest fragment of the whole Foundation and... when we want to get more, the EP is coming to an end. It's a huge pity that we didn't get some kind of epitaph... even a short piano coda, or a lonely saxophone carrying the whole thing away... Well, maybe that was the plan? Maybe that's what it was all about? In the end it's always better to leave the listener thirsty than oversaturated...

 

So, Foundation does not start with the famous Hitchcock formula. The songs reach us gradually and the whole thing begins to taste as you immerse yourself in the next tracks. Mitch Gallagher combines an intimate mood with a big lively sound. He doesn't shy away from the instruments that are usually associated with the Jazz Big Band.

In his music he focuses on warmth. He searches for love, for colours of life... for brighter side of life. This is what we get by reaching for Foundation

 

An unquestionable advantage of this EP is a very good brass section and a great solo saxophone. We also have here a very good presentation of the tonal capabilities of different types of electric guitars. We have many great solos coming out of Mitch Gallagher's fingers. Noteworthy is also the impeccable production and overall good sound of the EP. The whole sounds tasty and at the same time natural. The album has great, lively dynamics. It is not as compressed as other today's productions.

 

If something is missing, it's surely a bit of space... some kind of picturesque blur, which would strengthen the aura and work in plus on the reception of the whole... A bit of madness, a bit more slack... unzipping one more button of the jacket... something that for a moment would cross out the order of this album. Maybe some solo track played on fretless bass or double bass... one very different song based on cello or violins... either for contrast one, bit faster and more rock oriented song... Of course, everything depends on individual taste. Let's not forget that as many people so many opinions. 

The whole screams for additional DVD with material from the studio or rehearsal room.The material screams also for the tour, to present the songs again in some well sounding venues where the musicians would have a chance to get rid of the restrictions imposed by the recording studio. 

 

The essence of the solo album however, is whether and how much it transfers the listener into the artist's inner world and this EP does it very well. Foundation works like a photos from a journey, it shows something that we usually don't have the opportunity to experience... the most daring, distant tones, sometimes non-commercial, but living in the artist...

 

Here we get Mitch Gallagher's guitar that guides us through styles close to his heart. 

It's blues, it's jazz, it's tasty...  

 

​In Summary

When it comes to solo albums, I usually appreciate those that are one hundred percent solo. I mean those on which plays only one artist. I usually look for such albums and I try to write about them. In the case of this album, or more precisely this EP, I made an exception and I must admit, that, although not easy, it was a very pleasant exception. Why not easy? Because it's an album which is in both, coherent and varied, planned and improvised, commercial and non-commercial. Understanding it and finding its nuances, was a great lesson of humility, as well as knowledge about sound and music.

 

I think of Foundation as a special private concert... as a kind of intimate, private performance. You can play it, close your eyes and chill... forget about the outside world. With the rest, it wouldn't be possible to record such music by multiplying the tracks in solitude. It's a strong band material, where mutual fun, interaction and trust really counts. It is a record of the moment, a kind of diary, life captured here and now. Such is Foundation and such is Mitch Gallagher, the musical and artistic director of this album. I listened to it on Monday morning, I listened to it on Friday evening. I listened to it on my way to work and even at work and with full responsibility I can say, thank you Mitch! Thank you for the lesson, which Foundation was for me. And especially, I would like to thank you for "White Iris", which bloomed in my home. I will never forget this song...

Post Scriptum

 

Foundation EP was recorded at Sweetwater Studios and Ocean Way Nashville Studios.

The cast of musicians including Keith Carlock (drums - Steely Dan, Mike Stern, Sting, Toto),

Michael Whittaker (keyboards - well-known L.A. and Nashville session musician, film/TV composer), Adam Nitti (bass - Nashville session musician, Michael McDonald, Dave Weckl, Kenny Loggins).

Special guests include Supertramp/solo artist/L.A. master session guitarist Carl Verheyen and Nashville session ace/rising star Tyler Summers on saxophone, as well as Steve Patrick and Vinnie Ciesielski (trumpets), Sam Levine as sax player in horn section and John Hinchey (trombone). 

The whole was mixed by Mitch Gallagher at The Music Room and Sweetwater Studios Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk Artwork and design by Hugh Syme Photograph by Mike Ross.

 

For more details about Foundation EP please visit: www.mitchgallagher.com

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