6 September 2014

Grumbling Fur - Preternaturals

A few months ago, I was talking with a friend who recommended this band to me.  The man in question has a varied taste in music which means I can one minute get a suggestion about a Japanese noise act and the next a Swedish throat music trio from Winchester.  It can be that varied; but that is beside the point.  The band he recommended was Grumbling Fur and for a while I have wanted to review one of their earlier works, but that has been put on the back burn due to other commitments on the page (I promise to have it sorted soon though).  However, in the meantime Grumbling Fur has released this new record that I am writing about here called 'Preternaturals'.  Grumbling Fur consists of Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker who have made their name in the UK experimental underground scene.  Previously, Mr O’Sullivan has been a member of such groups as Guapo, Ulver, and Aethenor (with Stephen O’Malley).  Whilst Mr Tucker help create music with Imbogodom and as an eclectic solo artist. (Some of that was taken from their Facebook page as I cannot really get much information in regards to them - sorry guys if you read this).  With the mention of Ulver and Stephen O'Malley, this will have a few people expecting some sort of drone noise void for the ages.  Well, it is not quite like that, but here is a look at what is on offer.

Starting off this record is the introduction instrumental called "Neil Megson Fanclub" which is over before it really starts, but it serves as an interesting starting point before the first song proper with "All The Rays".  This song comes across as a strange hybrid of early Depeche Mode, some of the strange noises from Throbbing Gristle (which Depeche Mode say was the bases of their career) and a subverted view on the original pop world of the 80's.  This is in no way a tribute, but it has that sort of dark underbelly which I find interesting about that type of music.  There is also a touch of the strange when the song starts to end which is unnerving.  Natural of course, I love this.  "Lightinsisters" has guest vocals from Tim Burgess who is best known for being the vocalist in The Charlatans.  The darker side of electronic can be heard here, but it has a rather trance nature to the keys and frequencies used on this track. It does remind me of the early pioneers of electronica and the mixing of vocals is a subtle of mixture which I would not have expected on paper, but it really does bring the song to life.  "Feet Of Clay" is the fourth track here, this one has a more off-key drone going on in the background that will be familiar to many fans of the more experimental side of electronic music.  The lyrics paced over the tune sound like a medieval sonnet and is perfectly placed to be a mirror to the music underneath; a glorious collection of strings and guitars that melt into one of fascinating piece of music.

Following on is "White China Pencil" which is just under a minute of noise of ambient sounds that acts as a bridge towards the sixth track of the album, "Secrets Of The Earth".  This is a drone track in nature; the minimal keys, haunting guitars, soft drum machine noises and mournful vocals come together to make a broken, yet beautiful piece of music that has beauty and darkness trapped in its very soul.  Indeed, for the first section is all lights and harmonies before the white noise feedback of the ending which does not rise to deafening levels; this makes the song more disturbing and more memorable.  "Mister Skeleton" is the next with its strange pop-ethics and experimental nature wrapped around a beautifully simple guitar pattern; again, the time signature is not your standard 4/4 beat and this makes you focus that little bit harder on the song itself.  It is another mesmerising song crafted incredibly well.  "Materials Recording The Fibres Of Time" is the last bridging track between songs, all of which throughout the album have been used to great effect and have not seemed out of place.  This one leads onto the closing track of the album - "Pluriforms".  Again the dark nature of the band is on show here, this is not an easy track compared to what has gone on before.  It is bleak and desolate, so once again I love every minute of it.

This is an incredibly perverse record in someways, the dark underbelly that was shown by Throbbing Gristle, Depeche Mode, Ulver and others is out in the open in places and this makes for a very unsettling and dark record.  It is quite preserve in some ways and that was the original intent of this sort of music; it was not mean to be charming and playing to the people who has the just so teeth and the latest fashionable clothes.  After putting my thoughts up above, I had a read of a few other reviews to see what else was being said.  It seems like the band mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people; but all of them agree that they are doing something exciting.  This is a top quality release and should help the band onto greater things.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

You can purchase the album here from Amazon

You can keep up to date with the activates of Grumbling Fur via their Facebook page here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you

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