03 August 2011

Gurun Gurun - gurun gurun (Home Normal, 2010)

First album for this Czech trio, which strangely features three Japanese female singers as guest contributors: Sawako, Moskitoo and Rurarakiss, each one singing on two different tracks. They also use a sample of Daisuke Miyatani on another track and a few other musicians are adding clarinet, trumpet, violin, koto or viola da gamba.

For the absent-minded "Gurun Gurun" could be easily considered with their style as a Japanese formation, (the artwork is close to what the assimilated Singaporean band Aspidistrafly used on their album "I Hold a Wish for You"). Once you go through, you notice another twist as they are trying to emulate Múm. A few years ago they might as well have released this record on Morr.

This debut album can be like a wedding cake at times, an accumulation of elements which by their multiplicity, tone down the whole impression. There are potential confusion and saturation for the (too) attentive listener, too much seat-belts, parachutes and lifebelts are there to prevent you from disliking the album. I feel like going through a tropical forest, enjoying moments of pure beauty among a luxuriance of other convenient and often superfluous elements.

The risk of invited voices is their lack of personal implication, guests are guests, so if pleasant and of good will, it is also very often formal and normative. I don't enjoy some of these tracks : the too melodic, "fu", the confused and disconnected "yume no mori" and the childlike "kúkó". Sometimes they are also tempted by freewheel improvisations leading nowhere, like with "io" or "ato toa ota tao". A last bad idea is to end the album with two passable and insignificant remixes.

Once the bad things expressed, it's time to concentrate on the successful parts :

I clearly enjoy two instrumental tracks, were you can feel a subtle interaction between the players, creating a meandering stream which is refreshing and appeasing like on "karumi", or nocturnal and sleepwalking with "emoto".

When the vocals are subdued enough and don't swamp the track, it turns into something really seductive. The beautiful "komodo" (Rurarakiss), full of whispers, mixing nicely electronics and brass instruments, find the right but pleasant uncertain balance, brightly complementary. They are sharing a mutual communion on the bucolic and intimate "Ano Uta" with Moskitoo. Faithful to herself, Sawako is so invested into "yuki ~ hawaiian snowflake" that it could be a song of one of her own albums, inducing moving feelings of trouble and hesitation.

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