I have spoken before about how some things are easier to review than others, and frankly I can honestly say that this record was an absolute nightmare! This has nothing to do with the quality of the music itself, it’s just that most music which exists in this world of ours is pretty straightforward so it’s easy to talk about in general terms and explain what it is. Exhale is absolutely none of these things.
For Jeremy Pringsheim, who is primarily a metal guitarist this record has been 2 years in the making. And it is very much an EP of his own making as well as he contributes guitars, bass, drum programming and ambience. (I’m taking ambience to mean effects) In fact the only other contributor to the record was Oli Morgan who oversaw the engineering, mixing and mastering, and in all honesty I’m still not quite sure what to make of the results.
Exhale was first pitched to me as ‘Instrumental, atmospheric but quite heavy and rhythmically intricate.’ As you will know I am no genius but even I got the feeling that this wasn’t going to be your bog standard review. If it’s any consolation the record is in fact every one of those things listed above. It’s moody, as well as being hauntingly gentle. It’s an absolute vast expanse of an EP. When man lands on Mars and the video is sent back to Earth this piece of music will be dubbed over the top and used as the soundtrack.
I described Exhale as a piece of music above because that’s exactly what it is. For what it’s worth there are five tracks called ‘Exhale’, ‘Enigma,’ ‘Obsession,’ ‘Elemental,’ and ‘Reflection’ but that’s all pretty irrelevant because this is at heart one piece of continuous music. For just under half an hour Pringsheim takes us on such a laid back journey that it could be a dream sequence.
The slow, quiet meandering sections are juxtaposed against rolling drums and some crunching guitar solos and the whole project flows really well. But as I said above this is such a difficult EP to draw any overall conclusions from. On the one had you would say that the record doesn’t do enough and that for large sections nothing really happens, and normally that would be a criticism. However, the record isn’t supposed to do anything grand, it’s supposed to gently wind along without beating you to death with intensity. So in that respect I think it’s really important to appraise a record such as this against what it was intended to be and not what you might want it to be.
Exhale isn’t a record that you would engage with in a traditional sense but that doesn’t make its presence any less valid. I think you would either have to shut yourself off from the world and really let it wash over you or just have it on in the background while you’re doing the ironing to really get anything from it. You’re not going to be banging this at full volume in the car while on a road trip with your mates let’s put it that way. In all honesty I’m as unsure now as when I first sat down with my notepad and pressed play.
I don’t dislike Exhale but I also struggled to really get a hold on it. Maybe it just isn’t my bag and I totally missed the point, who knows. Although having said that it is impossible not to praise the intent of the record, this whole project is designed to go against the grain and do something totally different and does that on pretty much every level. Challenging, atmospheric and intriguing in equal measure Exhale is most certainly unconventional, and frankly I still don’t know whether I like it or not.
You’re on your own on this one guys.