NEW MUSIC: Fleeting Smile – Gwailo (2014)

GWAILO front cover

As Toronto minimalist composer Fleeting Smile prepares to release his most ambitious full-length album, Gwailo, Replicant Ears gives you the first look at what’s in store for you on this, his third release. Spiralling far from the largely inaccessible experimental sound of the artist’s first two records (2012’s May This Be Emerald City and 2013’s Renaming the Sun), Gwailo shows off a style heavily influenced by the art-pop of the late seventies and early eighties. Citing such talents as Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson as influences, and including very upbeat, dance friendly electronic tunes with mainstream song structures, Fleeting Smile has built Gwailo to be accessible to both mainstream listeners and forward-thinkers alike. While Fleeting Smile does play guitar on a couple of tracks, he has switched mostly to keyboards and various studio techniques to create the new sound. To change the landscape a little and give it more of a natural ensemble feel, the artist also invited a few guests to play on the record. One of the tracks even includes a surprise return to regular lead vocals, the first time the artist has done so on record since 2010, on his original band Fire Diviner’s only studio effort, Born In Ember Days.

The official track listing is as follows:

  1. Terse
  2. Neon Hymn
  3. Part 2
  4. Cigarettes Cigars
  5. Naked Streets
  6. Needles and Pins
  7. Anti-
  8. New Year’s Eve
  9. Gwailo
  10. Lady In Blue Jeans

To remain halfway rooted in his ambient/drone music background, Fleeting Smile has peppered Gwailo with short ambient interludes, such as the title track, “Terse,” and “Naked Streets,” which is a soft guitar-only track the artist recorded in tribute to the late Lou Reed. Other tracks explore mainstream composition, such as “Part 2,” “Neon Hymn,” and the first single, the ballad “New Year’s Eve.” “Anti-,” a mash-up of world music and industrial elements, and “Needles and Pins,” another tune heavily influenced by Lou Reed, are dark experimental tunes exploring urban subjugation. And showcasing the artist’s playful side are tunes like the short “Cigarettes Cigars,” and the catchy “Lady In Blue Jeans.” The latter explores the artist’s roots in progressive music and incorporates drone music elements into a very mainstream composition. It also ends the album with a bit of a surprise for ambient music fans who don’t mind waiting a mere thirty seconds after the album proper has played out.

Fleeting Smile.

Fleeting Smile.

Released next Tuesday at Fleeting Smile’s Bandcamp page, the artist is offering the entirety of Gwailo up for 100% free download to anyone who wants to hear it. The artist asks that listeners like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter, where he operates as FLTNGSML. Until release day, you can listen to and view the video for Fleeting Smile’s first single, “New Year’s Eve,” featuring the very talented Chris Ross of Coram Deo on bass and guitar, released this past spring. You can access the official Facebook event page here.