Gurun Gurun – Gurun Gurun
Gurun Gurun is a Czech-based experimental, weird ambient & improvised music collective formed in the autumn 2007 by guitarist Tomas Knoflicek and keyboardist Jara Tarnovski…
Their musical work combines guitars, analogue synthesizers, turntables, acoustic instruments and digital effects to span musical spaces ranging from hypno-minimalist atmospheres to warm tones of slow moving, repetitive melodic stanzas.
Their twelve track debut album is a balancing act of frenetic yet sedate melodic layering that dances between chaotic and considered; multiple tones vie for space around central melodies that sound as though they could have been sampled from multiple genres of film soundtrack.
Track one, ‘Fu’, featuring vocals by Japanese sound and melody artist Moskitoo, is a loping and cyclical excursion in beeping and sliding textures, all resting on an at times staccato electronic pulse.
‘Karumi’ leads in with some recording hiss and clatter, then slides into stringed and woodwind exchanges that are anchored by bass drops and glitchy beeping and bubbling. The arrangement coheres nicely at about the three minute mark and brings in new layers which seem to be mobile phone interference (!) and GYBE-esque Tesla cello.
‘Emoto’ is a haunted toybox leading into the melodic ‘Kodomo’, voiced by Japanese chanteuse Rurarakiss; an almost conventional melody and structure carefully covered in effects and incongruous musical layers, deconstructed to centre around evocative wood lines. Singular tracks pepper the peripheries with multiple indecipherable interjections.
‘Yume No Mori’ features aquatic swathes of burbling electronic tones with liberal amounts of delay and analogue hiss – vocals are in this instance provided by occasional 12k contributor and former video artist Sawako. The bass outro provides a neat segue into ‘Io’, which hovers briefly before landing in a soundscape of disconcerting cinematic cues.
‘Anu Uta’ again features contributions by Moskitoo, with what amounts to the most conventional song structure on the release thus far, and by far the most accessible. The restraint demonstrated on this track points to a songwriting nous not previously demonstrated; and is by far the most effective demonstration of the unitary sound. The field and effect layers are used here to create mood at appropriate junctures, and the repeated vocal refrain to fade sells the package effectively.
‘Kuko’, again featuring Rurarakiss, reverts to a more dislocatory presentation. The at times almost chiptune layers skitter across the speakers and are countered by treated vocals and wavering bass bubbles.
Bridging track ‘Ato Toa Ota Tao’ leads into ‘Yuki ? Hawaiian Snowflake’, returning Sawako to the forefront, before pitching her behind treated vocals, only to have her peer back out amongst hiss, guitar samples and wavering electronic layers.
Two remixes finish the album out, with a version of ‘Karumi’ that seemingly isolates and highlights some of the more melodic ideas by fellow Czech Kora et le Mechanix. Opiate remixes ‘Fu’, with a reverbed space becoming home to a more considered take on the same material.
On the subject of mixes, all purchases of ‘Gurun Gurun’ from the Home Normal store will include a free bonus album download featuring remixes by Dot Tape Dot, Park Avenue Music, Pimmon, Zavoloka, Orla Wren, offthesky and Part Timer, with its own unique artwork. Given the bounty of individual tracks the remixers likely had to work with, this would no doubt present a wealth of divergent material.
As a whole, the release is definitely identifiable as a debut album, with no idea spared inclusion. It can most certainly be categorized as experimental in that conventional arrangement and musical convention are for the most point substituted with alternate approaches. The strong point that results from this approach would be the enthusiasm and vibrancy this energy lends proceedings.
There appears to be a theme of sorts – the general environment created feels to be an attempt to capture a youthful naivety, and this is aided by the use of breathy Eastern vocalists who add an ethereal and childlike quality to the exercise. The cover features a small child riding a stuffed animal at an amusement park, so the artwork is consistent with this theme. Songs like ‘Ana Uta’ point to a bright direction for Gurun Gurun, demonstrating a clear ability to be able to harness their divergent and chaotic threads when the opportunity presents.