Ambient composer Pepo Galán and Australian artist Karen Vogt have come together to create a piece of work that is melancholy in spirit, timelessly beautiful and perhaps delicately hopeful.
The Sweet Wait is the debut album by GALÁN / VOGT. It was mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri at Black Knoll Studio in New York and features two works (in the form of codas) from American composer Akira Rabelais (creator of Argeïphontes Lyre software who has worked with Harold Budd, David Sylvian, Bjork). Pepo Galán is a composer born in Málaga. Working mostly with piano, guitar, electronics and field recordings – he creates elegant, textural soundscapes infused with beauty and sensitivity. He has released ambient, modern-classical and experimental works and appears on Kompakt’s Pop Ambient 2020/2021. Karen Vogt is an Australian singer/musician based in Paris, France. She co-founded the dream-pop group Heligoland in Melbourne, Australia in 1999. Her distinctive vocals are a striking feature of the band’s music, with Cocteau Twins Robin Guthrie producing Heligoland’s last five releases.
The Sweet Wait is a brilliant album which highlights the above cited musical calibre. It is the sound two incredibly talented artists coming together to create a thing of rare beauty and it at once feels genuinely new and even raw in places, even as you wrestle with the sensation that this music has been part of your life for a long time. Galán’s music is majestic and utterly compelling. It has the rare quality of being incredibly subtle whilst feeling totally absorbing, transporting you to a place of reflection and thought. That is aided by Vogt’s lyrics, which can be melancholic and even dark but somehow manage to raise you up, to make you aware, and to get you thinking. There is an existential edge to some of the songs, heightened by Vogt’s vocal delivery which is unreservedly unique and devastatingly beautiful. In that sense this collaboration works perfectly, the music and the vocals work with each other throughout, occasionally blending to give the impression that the synth waves are backing vocals or that Vogt’s voice is a finely tuned instrument.
The soundscapes Galán creates are sophisticated and deep, which gives Vogt lots of scope when it comes to singing within them and she uses the contours of sound with a nuanced sense of freedom, infusing her vocals into those soundscapes when it feels right to do so but rising above them and creating her own sonic worlds with her distinctive vocal delivery when the song calls for it. The listener is very much left with the impression that the record is created in that way, with a feel and a touch that regards the music as a living entity to be navigated, caressed, loved; but occasionally to be broken away from and even dominated. Akira Rabelais’ codas give certain tracks an added dimension, deviating away from the pristine textures created by Galán and adding new depth to aspects of the music.
The Sweet Wait is a difficult album to categorise or label. Neo-classical, vocal-ambient, experimental – none of which really do it justice. Equally, although described earlier as dark in places and occasionally melancholic, there are hints of hope and the potential for a new dawn contained within the lyrics. After numerous listens of the album you find that sometimes those glimmers of hope seem to shine more brightly than at others. And ultimately that is part of the splendour of this album, the fact that it confounds, the fact that it defies easy explanation. Music doesn’t always have to be simple and it doesn’t always need explaining; sometimes the music itself has its own voice and that is the only explanation that carries any weight at all.
The Sweet Wait is out now on Editions Furioso