The lavish combination of clashing symbols, electric guitar, piano, robust drums and David Byrne-style harmonies reveals itself on ‘Fox, Wolf And Hound’, the opening track of Making Trails, the debut album by Dublin five-piece Ana Gog. There is a flamboyance and confidence about the sound here which can only be developed over time, so it is no surprise to learn that the guys have been together since their school days. Progressive rock, folk and touches of 80s pop are all present sources of inspiration, but it is the focus on composition and arrangements that might just set this band apart from the many other Irish bands looking to grab our attention. Much like the opener, ‘100 Years’ is a stunning and indulgent eight-minute opus of a track with an intense, theatrical structure. Its gradually building piano melodies are offset against vigorous percussive rhythms and emotionally delivered vocals.
But it is not all about the theatrics. It seems the signature Ana Gog sound is based on dynamics in the true musical sense, the contrast of louds and softs, light and shade, showmanship and subtlety. The acoustic folk ballad, ‘Light On / Light Off’ has a more understated approach but is powerful none the less. It is a welcome moment of tenderness for a band’s who lean towards the dramatic. ‘Magpie’, too, strips the layers of sound back, with acoustic guitar carrying the melody. An enigmatic style of lyric-writing is also evident with the words “Only for the bottle cork I’d probably drink myself into a rage, but baby things grow small with age”. The reoccurring themes of memories, love and loss are nothing new but always makes for evocative lyrical content.
If Making Trails has a pitfall, it is that at times connecting the juxtaposed ideas of rich, sweeping arrangements and simple acoustic sensitivity is difficult to do consistently. Still, with musicianship like this, the quest to find that balance should be an exciting journey in itself. Maybe the exploration of what lies between these spectrum points could result in something truly unique.