GusGus have had a somewhat tumultuous existence. Coming to fruit in a bizarre film makers-meet-girl-and-many-others scenario which reads like the most beserk film even Hollywood would think too silly to make and existing for the majority of their career on 4AD before being booted (persuading a label to keep flying nine Icelander’s round the world to play techno probably isn’t the easiest job in the music industry). It was up to enigmatic and electronic label extraordinaire KOMPAKT to take them on two years ago. And now we have this, Arabian Horse, a shiny, bright, and totally compelling piece of work from the now trio.
From the instrumental offset (‘Selfloss’) the dense textures of electronic distortion are set up to create a decievingly distant atmosphere and laid back vibe. On closer inspection, there’s anticipation and an attention to the most minute detail at every turn. Percussion crunches, vocals scatter and bleeps cross from one end of the stereo field to the other creating an almost sci-fi, trance-like quality throughout.
Certain elements, the lyrics and vocals especially, verge on the edge on being a little too thoughtful (some would say portentous) at times for what is essentially deep house. Luckily it never quite crosses that line, remaining in a more self aware space of quasi-silliness – they sometimes sound more like a Whitney Houston ballad: “deep inside/deep in time… why did you steal my heart and go?” There is constantly the hint that if these guys wanted to condense these five-minute tracks into three-minute blasts of electronic pop perfection, they probably could. And it’d probably be ace.
‘Deep Inside’, ‘Over’, and ‘Arabian Horse’ are the LP’s three gems – the latter being the albums initial single release – a pummeling mix mix of throbbing bass, sing-a-long vocals and a beat strong enough to keep any crowd dancing.
If all this sounds like unblievable hyperbole, then just compare it to the whacky-ness of the band themselves. An unbelivable set of events has resulted in this surprise, underdog, must-have release. And right in time for summer.
From Nicholas Burman.