There are too many people who do not appreciate the flute and many who do not perceive exactly how rocking a flute can be. However, contrary to popular belief, this beautiful instrument is not the wallflower of the woodwind family, or just for the notes that are left over. Bands like Traffic, Free, Genesis and Moody Blues all understood the importance of the flute and, luckily, so do Melbourne music collective, Gilligan Smiles.
From Jethro Tull to Genesis, many rock bands of old managed to harness the flute’s raw, breathy power. Now, Gilligan Smiles’ Hopefully brings it back.
Their first release of 2016, Hopeffully continues the band’s sunny, psychotropic narrative, and was written with a view to showcasing that oft-overlooked instrument. According to Gilligan Smiles’ songwriter, James Becker, “A main inspiration for the track would probably be trying to include a flute in its own right. We’d had our flutist, Lauren, live for a while, but she would always just follow a lead guitar line, so really trying to get a distinct flute part was a big focus of writing it.”
Gilligan Smiles weave true psychedelia with prog rock and indie, often citing bands like Flaming Lips as influences. Something which is particularly true of Hopeffully, as Becker recorded the song after taking a road trip to see The Flaming Lips, and meet Wayne Coyne, at Mona’s MOFO Festival in Tasmania.
We also asked Becker to account for the over excited spelling of the track name, which actually received a fairly prosaic explanation; “It’s called “Hopeffully” after I misspelt the word when saving the recording session. I just kind of left it after that, because any other spelling looked wrong after I’d worked on it for however long I did.”[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/264720499″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
A dreamy and definitively psychedelic track, Hopeffully has a slow, heavy progression that lends itself to the treble counterpoint from the flute. A steady beat and an infinite, descending melody – like an aural interpretation of an Escher illustration – leave plenty of room for interjection.
Not only the breathy, fluttering flute but also drum fills and cosmic synths add layers to the soundscape. It’s the pauses in an otherwise consistent beat that give the track a prog rock feel, as they break into hypnotic rhythms. And the flute, easily synonymous with a jazz influence, also leans into the progressive sound and away from classic rock.
Hopeffully is the first single from Gilligan Smiles’ upcoming fourth album. Following last year’s full length release, KARMASOUPTRUCK, the new track suggests an evolution of sorts for the band. And ‘hopeffully’ the start of a revolution for flautists the world over! I can but dream…