In 2014, post-punk bassist and vocalist Malka Spigel released an EP named Gliding, a little companion album to go along with her 2012 album Every Day Is Like the First Day. The four featured songs showed off what Spigel’s touring band could do at the time, taking tracks from her back catalog and performing them with just the right amount of change to justify the costs of distributing a new recording. Musicians included Alexander Balanescu, Julie Campbell, and Johnny Marr.
Now, Gliding is being brought back into print with an additional four songs recorded in 2021. Hiding, like Gliding, gives new twists to Spigel’s older material. It’s even (kind of) named after one of her ’90s solo albums, Hide. Together, Gliding & Hiding make for a good twofer. In the strictest sense, it may not be new material, but that doesn’t matter. The Gliding half sounds just as good as it did eight years ago, and the Hiding half is certainly no slouch itself. If these are the kinds of artistic moves Spigel will pull in her downtime, it certainly beats most dull remix projects and painfully redundant best-of collections.
The sound of Gliding is nestled somewhere between Immersion and Githead, the two side-projects Spigel runs with her partner Colin Newman. Immersion trades in mostly instrumental electronic music, while Githead was a supergroup of sorts where Newman, Robin Rimbaud, and drummer Max Franken – of Spigel’s old band Minimal Compact – could flesh out any ideas they couldn’t use for their usual engagements. Gliding is sleek, glistening, refreshing, and rocks hard in its own little abstruse way with pulsing drums, eerie keyboards, fuzzy guitars and bass striding along in tandem, creating a plume of sound that sounds both deadly clinical and organic. The material covered comes from Spigel’s Hide, Rosh Ballata, and My Pet Fish albums, plus “Tall Grey Buildings”, her contribution to a swim~ compilation Swim Team #1.
The first half of Hiding takes a more electronic angle. Spigel’s reworking of “Hide” lets listeners know that Spigel is remixing while re-recording old songs. The jumbled jungle beats only grow harder on “I Just Want”, another track excavated from Hide. Here, jangly guitars take a backseat to the soothing synth pads that paradoxically get paired with the busy programming. Spigel’s vocals opt-out of being front and center, instead playing another role in the mix that isn’t that much more domineering than the slightest of synth flourishes. The arrangement of “Besof Hayom” from her solo debut Rosh Ballata isn’t much different from the original. However, the recording quality is less tinny and uses little-if-no reverb on her voice.
The final track, “Return Wheel”, reaches back to Spigel’s Minimal Compact days. Like “Besof Hayom”, the quality of the new recording stands out instead of any bold changes in the performance. “It’s a grey day raining, and I’m thinking to myself / That I turn in circles all the time.” It’s ideal imagery for such a dreary concoction of sighing keyboards, tremolo guitar, and clockwork-like percussion. If it all has a familiar feel, it’s because Matthew Simms of Wire plays guitar, and Immersion collaborator Ronald Lippok of Tarwater provides the drums. Newman, Gil Luz, and Uri Frost round out the Hiding ensemble.
Again, Gliding & Hiding is not exactly straight-out-of-the-oven new. It’s an older EP of reworkings stapled to a newer EP of reworkings. But Spigel is far too prominent a tinkerer to let either EP pass as just some money grab. Gliding & Hiding is a small-scale revolution and a highly listenable one. If this is the price one has to pay while waiting for her next collection of new songs, it’s a nice problem to have.