Grumbling Fur is fast revealing itself as a shape-shifter, with each new release subverting the identity present in the previous work. In retrospect, clues to the band’s transient self were present all through their debut Furrier; an album built on a curious, indefinite noise half-hidden by foliage and swamp water, lost in a darkness of lo-fidelity and textural blurring. The band takes the form of a mysterious forest creature at night, but who knows how it will mutate by morning?
“Okay, roll sound! Cameras!”
Glynnaestra begins, and a film director yells preparatory instructions at his crew. Grumbling Fur are pure theatre, and while the actors of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan are transformed here in order to slot into the new narrative in which they find themselves – free from Furrier’s woodland gloom to occupy the hallucinogenic paradox of a pastoral cityscape – even their fiction finds itself based on their unshakeable foundations of living, real-world personality. While it’s delightful to have one’s expectation upturned by the laser guns and chipmunk backing vocals of “Protogenesis”, Tucker’s unmistakable oaky lurches of cello are still there: a tiny token of corporeality that keeps the album’s fantasy tethered to reality, albeit on a generously long leash.
It’s a brighter, freer Grumbling Fur than before, as though the band have broken through the tree cover to witness horizon meeting clear sky for the first time. Rhythm is granted greater prominence, no longer throbbing somewhere beneath the moss – in fact, beats are the definitive foundations that seems to set the rest of the record’s elements into motion, whether it’s the synthetic pips of “Galacticon” beckoning moody orchestral swerves and vintage synthesiser bass grooves, or the handclaps of “The Ballad Of Roy Batty” that drag a hopeful organ and enlightened choral congregation into the dawn. They remain a sly and unpredictable force even at this level of vibrancy however, with the smoky tribal workout of “Alapana Blaze” being one of several allusions to either a dark and primitive past, or the foreshadowing hints to Grumbling Fur’s next incarnation.