Album review: Hovercraft - Fall (2020)
FALL is the second album by Hovercraft, the Bartosz Gromotka one-man project. The music falls broadly under the post-rock tag but Gromotka, though he admits it’s founded in a rock idiom, is reluctant to be pigeon-holed. He cites both classic and modern influences but has deliberately chosen a singular path and as sole musician, has crafted his own sonic identity which, as a concession to those who do want to attach labels, has coined his own sub-sub genre: Bristol Movie Rock.
The music is certainly cinematic and in parts successfully conveys the downbeat nature of the music that is particularly associated with late 80s – early 90s Bristol, with a poignancy or melancholy that Gromotka relates to a rainy and gloomy atmosphere.
Instrumental opener LEAVES FALL balances space and music, displaying some of the electronica touches that make up trip-hop, and this gives way to the epic title track where the lyrics, interspersed with some really tasteful guitar work, heavy riffing, soloing and acoustic, spell out the pain of an interminable wait between late autumn and spring. His voice may not cover a wide range but it’s effective and fits the tone of the album really well. There are some proggy, clever angular breaks and the track fades out with slow keyboard chords.
The short SILENT ROOM begins with guitar that could have come from Howard Shore’s soundtrack to the David Cronenberg film interpretation of JG Ballard’s ‘Crash’. This is the perhaps the least satisfying track because there’s insufficient variation, unlike on following 9-minute piece RAIN. This begins with some nice reverbed piano – it’s a keyboard track rather than a guitar piece – where, despite the tendency towards lyrical bleakness and Mellotron-like chords, the piano and electric piano work is bright and the mood is relatively up-tempo.
ANTIPHOENIX also features an electric piano introduction followed by some Floyd-like guitar before the vocals start. An impressive armour-plated guitar solo breaks up the first and second vocal passages, and the later verses are backed with prog-metal guitar before the song resolves with a short section of heavy rock/psychedelia.
SILVERANGE is an instrumental with well-balanced guitar and keyboards, the guitar at times effects-laden and at other times clean picked like some 80s era King Crimson. The stylistic changes make it an interesting piece with continuous development and even a false ending at around 9 minutes in.
Overall, I find Fall an album easy to enjoy. The lyrics may convey sadness and occasional gloom but you could never describe it as depressing – there are too many changes and up-tempo moments – yet somehow Bristol Movie Rock is an apt descriptor.