A little alliteration is present in the hard “g” sounds of the title and band, but a soft “g” might have been more fitting since Glow in the Gloom is an album of smoother edges. The press release touts “sensitive and pathetic melodies” looking for the light, a lovely description apart from the fact that “pathos-filled” might have been a better term: the same root word without the negative connotations. Glow in the Gloom may be an album of deep emotion, but there’s nothing pathetic about it. It sounds exactly like the season in which it was released, a work that first announces, then fulfills its intentions.
Japan’s Jun Minowa and Satoshi Ikeda form the core of Gargle, and are joined here by Kei Sunayama on contrabass and Yoko Ikeda on violin. Adding these instruments to the guitar, accordion, piano and (occasional) glockenspiel makes Gargle seem like a full band, especially when the post-rock rushes arrive at the end of key songs such as “Presage” and “The Bleak Sky That Shimmers”. The video for “Presage” (seen below) communicates exactly what the band is trying to get across: the struggle to cross from the gloom to the glow. But not every track is a forward march; others contribute context, adding to the richness of the overall production. It’s also nice to see how the closing piece relates to the opener; as an ambient version of “Presage”, “Phenomenon #1” provides a sense of completion, wrapping the album in a tidy vine.
Glow in the Gloom isn’t just about spring, but about hope. The mood is positive throughout; there’s no doubt that these sprouts are going to get through, that the cotyledons (new vocabulary word!) are going to emerge. Even the most pathos-filled passage – the final five minutes of “Meditation” – seem irrepressible. Ikeda’s violin leads the charge to the light, which explodes in the 8th minute like a sunburst. Goodbye, gloom! Greetings, glow! (Richard Allen)