Brooklyn-based psych rock quintet GIFT — TJ Freda, Jessica Gurewitz, Kallan Campbell, Justin Hrabovsky and Cooper Naess — have developed and honed an uncanny knack for crafting soundscapes that are simultaneously turbulent and gorgeous. Interestingly, as a band, they share the quest of the perfect sound rooted in harmony during times of tumult and radical openness. Their overall approach is a desire to live in the moment. In fact, live they’ve created a live experience that sees them pushing their material in wildly improvisatory directions — and as a result, they’ve been selling out shows in Brooklyn, through word of mouth. (I recently saw them open for Frankie and The Witch Fingers last week, and the Brooklyn-based psych rockers impressively captured the crowd within their first song.)
The rising Brooklyn-based psych outfit recently signed to Dedstrange Records, a new label co-founded by A Place to Bury Strangers’ and Death by Audio’s Oliver Ackermann and Kepler Events‘ Steven Matrick. Dedstrange will release GIFT’s full-length debut Momentary Presence on October 14, 2022. Inspired by Ram Dass’ 1971 spiritual guide and countercultural landmark Be Here Now, Momentary Presence is a meditation on working through the anxiety and self-doubt that we all, at some point or another, carry. Specifically conceived, written and recorded with the idea of a full-length album being a fully contained work of art, the songs on Momentary Presence reportedly tease something seismic coming around the corner, while featuring dense layered productions that feel and sound self-assured, complete, definitive and impermeable. This is rooted in their believe that each moment has richness, complexity and singularity. And once it’s gone, it can’t be recaptured or repeated. So, can you truly be present? Can you open yourself up and appreciate it in its fullness — the ugliness and confusion, as well as the beauty and joy? The members of GIFT believe that the listener can. And their full-length debut is a chronicle of that chase, and a celebration of the eternal now.
Momentary Presence‘s first single “Gumball Garden” is a towering ripper centered around an expansive and densely layered arrangement featuring scorching guitar pyrotechnics, fuzzy power chords, glistening synth arpeggios, thunderous drumming and a relentless motorik groove paired with rousingly anthemic hooks and Freda’s gentle cooing. Sonically, “Gumball Garden” brings Join the Dots-era TOY, Minami Deutsch, Kikagaku Moyo, JOVM mainstays No Swoon and others to mind — but with a swaggering, self-assuredness.
“I wrote this song way before most people knew what the word pandemic meant,” GIFT’s TJ Freda says. ““I had a dream in late 2019 where I woke up one day and there was nobody on earth. I was walking around looking for any forms of life to no avail. It was sad but also strangely peaceful. When the pandemic happened, this song took on a whole new meaning. We did wake up one day and the streets were empty. Everyone had gone away. This song is about finding peace in solitude.”
Directed and edited by James Thomson, the accompanying video is an intimate yet stylishly shot visual that captures the band performing the song through a series of gentle closeups and a mind-bending sequence that seems to follow the band as they get into the song’s trippy groove.