Review: Gurun Gurun – S/T

Gurun Gurun create a real three-dimensional clatter and commotion, through which structured melody is just barely able to establish a presence. It’s as though the musicians are clumsily stumbling into their instruments rather than taking charge of them, and often sounds like Fennesz’s Endless Summer set in a Japanese nursery – burps of static, the clatter of percussive found sounds and warped electronics form a playful sonic bed on which sweet chord progressions and softly sung breaths awkwardly poise.

The first few tracks are the best of the bunch, with “Karumi” standing out in particular: mobile phone interference chatters alongside the croak of strings, resonantly plucked guitar, clicks, pops, keyboards, and countless other sounds that arise and disappear quicker than they can be identified. “Yume No Mori” is another good one worth noting, surrounding itself in the yelps and whistles of a toy factory come to life.

About half of Gurun Gurun grants rigid melodies higher prominence, drifting closer to the classification of “song” rather than “sound collage”. Sometimes this works brilliantly – “Kodomo” is pretty and brittle, dismantling and rebuilding itself, losing the melody and staggering back into it again. Vocals tentatively etch out a melody through rasping whispers, while clarinets swoop over the top in warm and endearing ostinatos. But a couple of the pieces let structure take too much of an assured grip. “Ano Uta” feels like the album’s “single”, feeling dull and sedated compared to the album’s more excitable moments – it reeks of false maturity and self-awareness, forming a rather glaring juxtaposition with Gurun Gurun’s celebration of child-like experimentation. Because ultimately, that seems to be what Gurun Gurun do best, and thankfully those fleeting moments of adult clarity are outnumbered by occasions that the album splutters and crashes and does whatever it pleases.