Release Date: Aug 11, 2014
Record label: The Quietus Phonographic Corporation
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Head here to submit your own review of this album. How is it that Grumbling Fur's albums seem to exist on a plane of existence separate to the one we refer to as reality? Three albums in and each one has conjured a distinctly alien, yet somehow recognisable place through music. These places could be in the past, an alternate history where Neu's krautrock took an unexpectedly British detour, or a future that's awaiting us if only we can survive a dramatic consciousness shift.
When Grumbling Fur released their Furrier debut three years ago there was little indication that they would soon be topping Album of the Year lists (well, one list at least) and collaborating with internationally-beloved musical superstars (well, The Charlatans' Tim Burgess at least). As compelling as it was, Furrier's largely wordless, jam-based, rustic Krautrock was always going to remain an acquired taste. Their next release, Alice, saw Grumbling Fur strip down from a quartet to a duo (Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker) to embrace a sound that, although akin to Tucker's more accessible psych-folk solo work, still remained at some distance from that elusive province of GREAT THINGS.
Billed as their “pop” record, Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker’s third album launches straight into 30 seconds of creaking doors and spooky bells in a fragment called ‘Neil Megson Fanclub’. They soon make good on their pop pledge though, scattering mesmerising synth melodies on ‘Lightinsisters’ (featuring Tim Burgess), dabbling in folk on the wonderful ‘Feet Of Clay’, gazing up at “rapid stars” on the Depeche Mode-like ‘All The Rays’ and minting strange, campfire R&B on ‘Mister Skeleton’. Their imagery may be impenetrable – all “teardrops on the wires” and particles “falling into space” – but the tunes haunt the mind long after they’ve faded.Matthew Horton .
According to Grumbling Fur duo Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan their albums are reflective of the time and place in which they were made. In this case, the pair wrote and recorded in a house owned by artist Ian Johnstone. Situated in Tottenham, the grounds provided a kind of rural retreat from the surrounding suburbia thanks to its woodland garden, whilst the occult art dangling on the walls added to the inspiration for these songs.
After last year’s Glynnaestra, a record that blended experimental collages of sound with elements of classic psychedelic pop, Grumbling Fur (the duo of Æthenor/Guapo/Mothlite/Ulver man Daniel O’Sullivan and prolific solo artist Alexander Tucker) seemingly didn’t think much to the idea of pausing for breath. Preternaturals, which is being released by our esteemed friends at The Quietus (who named Glynnaestra their favourite record of 2013), very much continues where that record finished off which, given the strengths of the album, is hardly a bad thing. Listeners are greeted, then, with a brief intro, the Genesis P-Orridge referencing ‘Neil Megson Fanclub’, before ‘All the Rays’ bursts with an appropriately sunny disposition through the curtains.
It’s been ages since we’ve had a revolution. Not an actual revolution, where heads roll and things are set on fire and actual change occurs. But one of those musical revolutions where a couple of similar sounding acts are banded together and prefixed. New rock. Nu rave. New boring. So now ….
If your last exposure to Grumbling Fur was through debut Furrier, the streamlined collisions of glittering electronic pulses and pastoral acoustic meditations that fuel this album - their third, and the follow-up to last year’s much-acclaimed (The Quietus’ album of the year, no less) Glynnaestra - might come as a bit of a surprise. Far, far more interesting that your average piece of spontaneous randomness, that 2011 debut was a bleary-eyed noodle-fest of drones, clatter and hiss - but many spots of beauty, too, cooked up in a one-day session by an all-star line-up featuring such odd-rock luminaries as Circle/Pharoah Overlord mastermind Jussi Lehtisalo. On Preternaturals, the band’s downsized to a core duo of Daniel O’Sullivan (also part of Sunn 0))) and Ulver, amongst myriad other noise-friendly projects) and Alexander Tucker.