After the release of Homelife, Gabriel was introduced to the music of UK-based Richy Midnight through underground film director Joseph Huertas. When Gabriel heard Midnight’s “Boyz Here” he knew had at last found someone suffering from the same strain of multi-tracking syndrome. Gabriel made an ecstatic overseas phone call begging Midnight to work on the new album already in progress.
The result is In Service of the Villain. The new album pits Walsh’s folksy strummings and incantations against Midnight’s pixeled out pianos and digital croon. With talented musicians from New York and northern England they have created an album that is truly experimental, yet highly listenable.
A specter of spiritual servitude thematically looms over the album: the post-apocalyptic waiting room in the Incredible String dub of “The Final Broadcast” or the tale of the indentured boy in the vocally overloaded “The Debtor’s Son.” The Villain reveals himself in riddles in the title track: “I’m the mind of the reader when the story begins to fail….” The album rallies against him later in the shuffling Gnostic anthem, “Failure of Design,” and resolves the relationship on a quietly triumphant note with the offering for the oracle – “Farewell Code Owl.”
"Like a siren in some lonely sea, it beckons you to venture forth, offering up everything you have in reserve, and the mental lap dances that the absurdly richly layered mixes proffers are exhausting. The textures are as unique as a cloudy days sky and the studio mastery at once is lo-fi in its simplicity but is richly pixilated with poignant remarks of sound engineering genius."
"There are songs that sound like the Beatles stepped out of their graves, but on the other hand there's just soundscapes, strange and almost frightening. And even the pop songs end up in a little nightmare sometimes. Fascinating album, far beyond everything I've heard"
-Emo is dead
"YTR doesn’t have to try to be cool. Gabe and co. is cool. Cool enough to expose brilliant hooks without shame, nor compromising all things "indie". There are few records that sum up "indie" like this one. In that sense, I wouldn’t hesitate to lump Your Team Ring and Guided by Voices in the same sentence. I’m compelled the most by Walsh’s incredibly eclectic approach and his ability to “rob” from so many influences without allowing you to recollect where his inspiration came from."
-The Black & White
"The music itself is beautifully orchestrated and psychedelically choral with moving swells and parts. It’s both loaded and light at the same time. Wandering, experimental and full of dreamful, swirling imagery, this piece of work is as rich as independent, low-budget music comes."
-Left of the Dial
"It’s an odd mix of 19th century aesthetic and 21st century design, like a time-warped vaudeville troupe recording in Abbey Road Studios."
-Lost at Sea (9 out of 10)
"In Service of the Villain is certainly an album of ingenuity; it combines extremely original ideas with a distinct accessibility. Trust me; you'd be doing yourself an injustice to ignore such a strangely wonderful album."