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A Journey to the Edge: Galapaga’s Debut Album “Journey to the Ice Wall”

Released on February 24, 2024, under the mystical glow of a full moon, “Journey to the Ice Wall” weaves together calming ambient and experimental world music.

Imagine jamming with your friends late into the early morning by a roaring fire on a snowy New Year’s Eve. Feel the vibrant connection of friendship and energy as the music takes over, and minutes quickly turn into hours. Surrender to the trance-like state of experimental world music and its powerful, zen-like atmosphere. Welcome to “Journey to the Ice Wall” by Galapaga.

“For me, this album is about friendship. Whenever I was pushing myself to try doing something totally new and play something specifically not safe, I always felt support and encouragement from the other guys.” – Chris

About the Band

United by their love for experimentation, new musical textures and non-traditional instruments, Brad Harward, Aaron McNicol and Chris Waters formed Galapaga during a late-night jam session on New Year’s Eve in Park City, Utah.

During the holidays, the trio along with their friends would often meet up and jam at a spot in Utah, playing late into the night and expressing their emotions through the vibrant art of sound.

Galapaga is Aaron McNicol, Chris Waters and Brad Harward.

Their music, which defies easy classification, blends a diverse array of instruments including percussion, hand pans, tongue drums, didgeridoo, flute, guitar, synth, and keys. The band made their debut under the full moon, performing for a yoga crowd on the central coast of California before recording their first album, “Journey to the Ice Wall.”

“The New Years Eve a couple years back dropped a ton of snow on us and everyone had either left or was asleep except for Aaron, Brad and I. We wanted to keep jamming so we gravitated towards playing with some exotic instruments by the fire and everything just clicked. We ended up jamming until the sun came up and got real excited about the music we were playing, which was a style that we had not really heard before and that excited us.”

The band would use non-traditional instruments on the album to create unique textured soundscapes.

About the Album

Journey to the Ice Wall” is inspired by the whimsical concept of a flat-earth ice wall and the fantastical worlds that lie beyond it. The album was born from hours of free-form improvisations recorded live at Saucepot Studios in San Luis Obispo, California. Mixed by Wesley Price and mastered by Dave Polster at Well Made Music, this album is available in both digital and 12″ vinyl formats.

“The whole idea was to explore instruments that we normally didn’t play. Aaron is hands down the best drummer I have ever played with, but there is zero drums on this album! Instead, you’ll hear him soaring on wooden flutes or putting you in a trance with hand pans and tongue drums. Brad is playing djembe, pans, didgeridoo and other percussion. I’m really a guitar player, but I play mostly synths on the album.”

You can preorder the limited first pressing of “Journey to the Ice Wall” on 180gram black wax via Bandcamp.

During the recording sessions, the production team for the upcoming animated film “Anonimono” overheard the band and approached them about using it for their soundtrack. The film which is set to release later this year, will feature several tracks from the album “Journey to the Ice Wall,” as well as additional material that didn’t make it onto the album.

The album invites you to immerse yourself in a dreamlike landscape, where siren jungles, day-tripping narwhals, and vibrant butterfly skies converge in a shimmering new universe. The striking photograph used as the album artwork, features the enigmatic “sailing stones” of Death Valley, California, and was taken by band member Brad Harward.

“Creating music with non-primary instruments in a purely improvisation environment was very liberating. It freed us up from overthinking how or what we were playing and allowed for us to simply be present in the moment.”

Album Highlights

Journey to the Ice Wall” is an entrancing album. Its variation of instrumentation and textured atmospheres makes it a truly unique and captivating listen.

The opening single, “Embark,” is a fascinating introduction, and arguably the perfect introduction to this style of album. It’s progressive, coming in at just over ten minutes in length, but the listening experience is unparalleled.

It not only features an array of texture, but the masterful playing of the percussion is somewhat hypnotic, alongside a droning synthesizer which adds a deepened sense of meditation.

“‘Embark’ is probably my favourite track on the album. That one is special because it’s the very first thing we recorded in the studio. It really energised us and set the vibe for this record.”

As I progress through the album, it’s the calming and peaceful vibes that really resonate with me. Track two is perfectly named “Hazy Coast” in which the music feels warm and comforting. I imagine myself at sunset looking out to sea during the height of the summer, it’s a beautiful feeling.

I’m particularly impressed by the single “Through the Clouds,” which opens with a slightly delayed and heavily reverbed electric guitar.

This track is another progressive piece, where textured layers of percussion, flutes, and swirling synthesizers gradually emerge, creating a captivating mix of sound. The dynamic shift towards the end, as the percussion and lead flute speed up and the energy intensifies, is truly remarkable. The seamless transition into the final single, “Shimmer,” is also beautifully executed.

Release Date and Streaming

The album released on 24th February 2024, in which you can now stream on Spotify.

You can also support Galapaga over on Instagram, BandcampYouTube.

Interested in discovering our artist catalogue? Head to our artist page here.

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