Grails - Chalice Hymnal album review

Textural adventures from Poland’s far-reaching polymaths

Cover art for Grails - Chalice Hymnal album

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Given the geographical spread of Grails’ experimental sojourns, ‘world music’ is an apt classification for the Portland instrumentalists’ recordings. From Eastern mind-expanse to gritty spaghetti western influences to the widescreen drone of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, European psych rock and ambient electronic meditations, Grails have zero stylistic limitations. Six years have passed since the shapeshiftingDeep Politics, but they’ve reconvened for their sixth full-length. The trio have amalgamated recent creative experiences and again reworked their malleable sound with a clear focus on film-score influences, as these often crystalline yet sometimes uneasy soundscapes suggest. The title track draws similarities to an instrumental of Bowie’s Lazarus if he went for bluesy grooves rather than jazzy backdrops; Can-worthy motorik beats jive with a John Carpenter film score on Pelham; New Prague mines Om (of which Grails’ Emil Amos is also a member) for mantric doom; Deep Snow II or Thorns II could soundtrack a Mid-West noir thriller… and the remaining songs are just as eclectic. It’s another engrossing and astutely crafted late-night listen from this undervalued act.