Album Review :
The Prevailing - K. Gautier

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K. Gautier - The Prevailing

Label: Independent
Release Date: July 22, 2016

Tracklisting:

  1. Morning Star
  2. Her Life
  3. The River
  4. Tower God
  5. Newest Home
  6. Before You
  7. The Processional
  8. Swing Low
  9. Keep Me
  10. Blanket Son
  11. Wild Wood
  12. The Prevailing

Kody Gautier (who publishes music under K. Gautier) released his debut album in 2015, describing it as cinematic and ambient. Further press even said it would strike home for fans of My Epic. These are no small claims, as pretty much anyone with a synth can create soundscapes and My Epic certainly hasn’t set a low bar musically or lyrically.

So, how does The Prevailing measure up to these claims?

First, it is most decidedly cinematic. Right off the bat, Morning Star takes listeners that is thoroughly dense in its use of strings and keys, reminiscent of a track from a film score. String crescendos are certainly not lacking, but ultimately create a moody, slow album. Indeed, by the time The River finishes, the instrumental cinematic moments quickly outnumber the vocal and lyrical ones. Percussion is mostly absent and the slow whole note patterns of the strings quickly get tiring. Thankfully, Tower God does mix in some more melodic key lines. The album follows a frustrating pattern of instrumental track followed by vocal track which gets predictable but also makes the album feels twice as long as it should be.

As for the second premise, the music is fairly distinct from My Epic. Gautier’s vocal timbre may bare some semblance, but instrumentally, the tracks lack the rock and post-hardcore elements seen on My Epic’s releases.

Tower God is more symphonic than post-rock, and reinforces the pattern of “strings when there are no vocals, melodic moments when there are vocals”. Newest Home thankfully seems to break this pattern to provide some beautiful piano work but again lacks anything that would really lend itself to be classified as rock.

Before You is the first time drumming is really present, but it’s still very supplemental compared to how prevalent the rest of the instrumentation is. It’s followed by The Processional, which is yet another instrumental track but actually does feel a bit like My Epic.

Blanket Son is a pretty nice track, sounding not unlike many modern worship songs (yet without the cheese factor). Again, I’m a fan of the piano lines here and wish that there were more songs like this on the album.

So, what is my overall evaluation? With around half an hour of purely instrumental tracks, not counting the lengthy instrumental sections within songs with vocals, the album just feels long. While the finishing instrumentals do provide more diversity, there are frankly too many interchangeable, and consequently overlookable, tracks. Gautier is evidently a skilled composer but the album feels too dichotomous between the film score tracks and the more indie tracks with vocals. Further, the album does showcare fantastic piano on Newest Home, Tower God, and Blanket Son but these moments are sadly a small fraction of the album.

The album doesn’t really feel suited for fans of My Epic, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t show promise. However, again, I feel that the album straddles the line between post-rock, symphonic, indie, and film score, making it feels as if the intended audience isn’t well-defined. Perhaps if the album had been split into an instrumental EP and EP with vocals, it may have helped.

There’s definitely promise on this album but ultimately I’m not hugely impressed. For a first release, it’s a good start, but it’ll take some fine-tuning on the followup release to avoid some of these pitfalls.

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