Release Date: Jul 23, 2013
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock, Experimental Electronic
Although they're just two years past their 2011 debut, Furrier, London-based experimental unit Grumbling Fur sound like an almost entirely different beast on third album Glynnaestra. On the surface, it would make sense; Furrier was the highly edited result of a swampy group improvisation, while Glynnaestra finds just two of the original players, Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker, sculpting dark and detailed electronic pop. While the noisy tones of that first wayward jam session don't have a lot in common with the cold sequencing of Tucker and O'Sullivan's grimly glowing electro, there are some threads keeping the spirit of those initial earthy jams alive throughout Glynnaestra.
With an album title name like that, the song name on Grumbling Fur’s latest opus would have to be pretty special, and they do not disappoint. They must certainly win an award for Most Impenetrable Track Titles, stemming from the album’s title Glynnaestra, who apparently is an archaic goddess divined by group members Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan. Briskly sashaying around the outer limits of the UK’s experimental underground, these two veterans of bands – including Guapo, Ulver, Aethenor and Imbogodom – offer up Glynnaestra on a silver platter as an avant-pop sound collage.
Grumbling Fur have an eye on the future, but like all telescoped futures, theirs is a vision of an ever-repeating present, resurfaced to veil its essential sameness. On their third album, Glynnaestra, the former London supergroup (now whittled down to the super-duo of Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker) have stepped beyond the cosmic pastoralism and doomy psychedelia of their debut Furrier and into a geodesic dome of Krautrock-inflected mantras and synthesizer astral-pop that was only hinted at in their earlier releases. Yet even with this maturation into a honed futurism, the first half of Glynnaestra possesses a tightly-structured cyclicality that inverts the sense that its music might be advancing us towards some point of departure or becoming, and it’s only until the latter half that it begins to offer any suggestion of an opening onto a new horizon, one that might deliver on its synthetic promise of escape.
Grumbling Fur make me want to take drugs. And I don't mean drugs like a few puffs on a spliff before bedtime or on a lazy Saturday afternoon, or a cheeky dabble at a rave to keep the energy flowing - I mean proper, don't-eat-for-18-hours-beforehand, make-sure-you've-got-a-couple-of-good-people-around-you, psychically prepared voyaging, preferably on a warm and sunny but slightly overcast afternoon in a field somewhere in the West Country, or in a friend's house cluttered to the rafters with fascinating and peculiar objects. On their second album Glynnaestra, the duo of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O'Sullivan conjure up a wonderfully evocative and distinctly British kitchen sink psychedelia, an intimate shared space where the whistle of a kettle and the clatter of pots and pans can sit seamlessly alongside heavily reverbed 80s pop synths, expansive rural landscapes, delectably ludicrous choruses and invocations to imaginary deities.
Glynnaestra is dominated by rhythm. A serrated buzz erupts out of the medieval chants on the opening “Ascatudaea,” sounding somewhere between a power saw and Tuvan throat singing, and rips right through the folk-ish modal melody. Later, rhythm will take the form of New Order-ish synth dance (“Protogenesis”), twitchily pixelated electronics (“Eyoreseye”), and cavernous hip hop beats (“Galacticon”), but always, it steps to the front.