Sound Smith

[History In Our Heads sleeve]"History In Our Heads" (Album, 1999)


Bristol-based Paul Gulati's second album mines a seam of mellow, psychedelic space rock that should appeal to fans of stable mates Alphastone. Fortunately, Gulati isn't content to find a groove and just run with it, and takes the heavily-layered approach with electric, acoustic, classical, bass and bowed guitars accompanied by a wide range of percussion and drums. But rarely do any of the component parts become too overbearing, rather they blend creating the impression of improvised jam sessions.

Synths and a piano bring the occasional brief melody into the frame and help by adding some welcome tonal variation to the sometimes murky backing. Gulati plays all the instruments himself, so the dense layering technique is as much out of necessity as it is creativity. All the more reason then to applaud the improvised feel to the album - no mean feat. The thirteen cuts presented here tend to drift into one another if one isn't paying too much attention and consequently History In Our Heads works just as well, if not better, as an ambient experience. But it shouldn't, and couldn't, be confused with wallpaper music. There's far too much of interest going on throughout this album for one to make that mistake.

The drums in particular, although never allowed to run uncontrolled, continually provide the main focus of interest without coming across as some intellectual excursion into the art of drum noise. Aspects of 60s psychedelia seem at work in Sound Smith's compositions and, at times, the free-fall side of The Velvet Underground comes to mind. But Paul Gulati's claim to uniqueness is valid for the imaginative way he weaves totally 'now' synths and guitars with these legacy elements, and manages to pull the lot off in a most convincing manner. 7/10

Rob Dyer