The Gateless Gate

Oceans Are Moving
From The Arctic To The South
Reflecting The Light




Folkmellotron amidst lactic telemata

Oceans Are Moving From The Arctic To The South Reflecting The Light is the latest Ambient album by Canada-based artist-and-occasional-duo The Gateless Gate, with the progressive heart of the music still beating strong, but now being infused by the galactosamines of Folkmellotron genre-wise, and the yearning for a summer breeze-exhaling ventiduct in the technocratic here and now aesthetically. As always, the guitar is in the epicenter of each of the six compositions, though the magnetotail of each slapped ultramafic string evokes the textural elysium of synths; whether it is actual synths from time to time or a good amplifier that ennobles the alluvial afterglow is beyond me, but the qualitative aspects of the six tracks are transparent. Shuffling between periglacial ice floes, hydroplastic streamlets and taupe-accentuated trade winds, the project's coxswain Allister Thompson yields the synergies of his natural/synthetic outing and pours them into field recording-accentuated movements, three of them crossing the mark of 14 and 18+ minutes respectively. The artist wants to provide an immersive, peaceful experience, so expect less quercetin-coated, labyrinthine lariats and a more sophisticated approach in terms of a calming, shelter-giving yet multinucleate superconductivity. Here's a holistic lookup at three of the album's qualities that hold the six tracks together.


Matutinal Ambient

New Age, for what it's worth (hint: a lot), is usually tied to that special dawn, the salubrious twilight that cleanses the soul and washes away the years. It's the point of departure, serving as the welcome aftermath of previous vicissitudes. Without being too poetic: The Gateless Gate's album reflects this floating point throughout its runtime. The eponymous opener for instance, a behemoth of 18+ minutes, sports the aesthetic physiognomy of a cloak-and-dagger epithelium, at first reciprocating between cautiously circulating euphonies and flangered aureate sweeps within mourning interstices before continuing onwards in order to break the crepuscular cocoon with hecatombic bass blebs and a forceful electric guitar in close proximity to angelic aureoles. Additional pleasing twilight states are to be had at a later stage of the album: the cryovolcanic incandescence of the guitar in A Rainbow Is Like A Smiling Cat encounters something that could be described as purrgatory, while the semi-pastoral, caustic-ecclesiastic Angels Of Glamorgan revs up the glissando in order to create a benthic/wadded diffeomorphism to describe the newly gained freedom.


Sinewed strings, your sunlit cornerstones 

No surprise: The Gateless Gate's latest work puts the guitar in its nucleic shelter. The powerful incision of the licks boosts the excitement and liveliness of the environment, sometimes providing a parallax runlet, at other times melting with its soothing surroundings. Despite its track title, NOW! would be such a song where Allister Thompson emphasizes a granular blend of a cautiously raspy, grained guitar with square lead flutes and lakeside field recordings, making the calming alterations of the melodies a progressive element that absorbs, reflects and emits light in equal parts, and in a debonair way of suaveness. The adjacent closer 4_TLJ meanwhile is the most immediate — and thus opalescent — track. Due to the reverberation of the guitar slaps' conflation with moments of silence and malleable hoarfrost in legato form, the main instrument figuratively shines feistier than ever, making the potentially most minimal track a repellent cataract of puissance after all. 


And then at last: biocentrism through field recordings 

Introverted incandescence, that's the opalescent nucleus of New Age, Ambient and progressive-psychedelic vintage veils of the 70's. This description shouldn't be misunderstood as a manifesto, it's just a mere tendency. Throughout The Gateless Gate's Oceans Are Moving…, the allure of the alleged wisdom is ubiquitous, but the sumptuously slowed-down centrifugal force of its six tracks is realized through endemic or intrinsic elements of the nomological kind… thankfully so, I am more than willed to add. Indeed, nature appears throughout the record, whether it is by means of vulturine, plummeted and other bird-focused field recordings that are courtesy of Klankbeeld in two tracks, or through the (phantom) frequencies of not-so-fret guitars and other strummed — sometimes majestically prolonged — riffs. Thirty Thousand Sunsets sees its crepuscular crimson-colored Candela core coruscating around an increasingly lively evening chorus, whereas the aforementioned NOW! features a carefully silkened mid-plasticity bird punctilio recorded by Allister Thompson himself; embedded in the purified glaciality that turns into saffron-hued rectilineal rhizomes, it is this very track that lets the two colors of the front artwork come to life by means of fluvio-lacustrine formations.


A contemplative movement through life 

It is true that I have shortened the full album title for the sake of convenience, but in this here paragraph, it needs to be mentioned in its full length again in order to delineate the cited contemplation that runs as a golden thread through the aqueous-desiccate dualism: Oceans Are Moving From The Arctic To The South Reflecting The Light not only carves out the otherwise implicit hope for leaving the arctic by gyring toward warmer aureoles, it also gathers the vastness of the life-affirming void. The water desert — the oceans, ahoy — appears in plural form after all. Since these textures, patterns and liquid surfaces magnanimously reflect the light in lieu of diffusing it, The Gateless Gate's latest solo effort isn't so much about adamantly pinpointing the genre or ancillary vestiges thereof, but the truthful, down-to-earth yet aeriform endeavor of presenting and living an Ambient album. A proclivity for Krautrock, progressive pericarps of the Berlin School and New Age nodes — and throat singing — is never wrong in the context we're situated in as listeners, though it is by no means a necessity: The Gateless Gate's album doesn't need to be classified qua micro niches. It is pristine Ambient after all.


Further listening and reading: 

  • The album can be obtained at The Gateless Gate's Bandcamp page.
  • The Gateless Gate on Twitter: @GatelessGate1
  • AmbientExotica's reviews and references about The Gateless Gate: this way.


Ambient Review 466: The Gateless Gate – Oceans Are Moving… (2016). Originally published on Jun. 23, 2016 at