It’s been too long since we’ve heard from one of our favorite northeast Ohio bands, the Chardon-based duo mr. Gnome, featuring the husband-and-wife team of percussionist/keyboard player Sam Meister and guitarist/vocalist Nicole Barille.
They debuted in 2005 with their Echoes on the Ground EP, and built a flourishing, mostly self-contained career from the ground up themselves (with the help of family and friends), writing their music, and doing their own artwork, videos and photography, as well as maintaining online contact with a small army of fans they’ve acquired through regular national touring.
Those fans were fiercely loyal to the hard-to-peg band who could be by turns dense and airy, tuneful and noisy, aggressively heavy and fragile. But it’s been a while since we heard from them. Their last full release of new material was 2014’s The Heart of a Dark Star, and it’s been a while since they last played one of their once-regular holiday gigs at the Beachland.
But now they’re dropping a welcome new album called The Day You Flew Away, featuring 26 (!) tracks, which should make up for the dry spell. It’s out October 16 on El Marko Records. They’ve already released three singles from it: “Psychonaut,” “Golden Edges” and “Golden Daze,”
“It’s been a long, crazy journey to get to this stage and we’re incredibly excited to share a ton of new music with you guys and gals,” they writ on their website. “So let this be known that we’re not dead, we’re not broken up, we are still mr. Gnome. We do appreciate all of the messages inquiring as to our status and well-being. We’ve missed you all so much and are gonna have lots of announcements coming up soon.”
They describe the new album as a double LP, divided into a dark and a light side “representing a sonic snapshot of life, pain, loss and light — a musical diary of our experiences over the past few years.” Given how deftly the express dualities in their music, conveying such a picture is right in their wheelhouse.
They share on their website what’s been going on with them:
“In late 2017 tragedy struck as Nicole’s father suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Two weeks later, Nicole found out she was pregnant, and so began mr. Gnome’sforced hiatus to gather the fragments of their past existence and piece them together into something new and meaningful. Still driven by the timeless and very primal urge to create, Barille and Meister managed to completely lose their minds only to find them again, in the process revamping their home studio and giving birth to a shape-shifting work that encompasses every piece of psychic tension and relief experienced while creating their new lives.
Barille continues, “The album is primarily about the loss of my father, and the light that followed through the birth of my son. It’s a musical love letter reflecting on the patchwork of emotions people experience during life and especially, grief. It only continued to take on more meaning when I lost my cousin, and when Sam and I both lost his brother through the course of its production. It’s honestly a miracle the album is going to see the light of day. The concept of the album is just that life transforms you. The title isn’t necessarily about the actual day we lost our loved ones, but how that moment changes you from that point on, good or bad.”
For those of us who have been longtime fans of the mr. Gnome, we hardly wait to see how they sink their teeth, musically speaking, into life’s biggest issues. If you don’t know them, give them a listen. There’s a reason that fans are intensely loyal to them.