12/23/09

GusGus - 24/7


Been listening quite a lot to GusGus's new album 24/7 lately. It's very different from their earlier releases. Mostly because there's no house this time around, only techno. The album is released on German techno label Kompakt and you can hear why; sparse and minimal arrangements, bare bone beats, Doepfer synth sequences, vocals and what I perceive to be Space Echo treatments which add a kind of dubby quality to the sound.

Apparently the girls left along with the house music, since this (to my knowledge) is the first all male album release from GusGus.
Three guys made this music and you can hear it. Not that we're talking some kind of macho music, no, it's more subdued than that. What I mean is that there is a certain "masculine" mood to the six minimalistic techno tracks that make up the album and this works to great effect. The music is dark, at times very dark, and the lyrics seem indignant and resentful. The chorus of first track "Thin Ice" goes "I feel like dancing on the thinnest ice" and next track "Hateful" says it out loud; "I fight fire with fire when I'm in this state, If I can't find love, I guess I'll hate". Note that he doesn't say that he wants to hate, but that hate is a possible state to end up in when in the absence of love.

Well, all days aren't that great. Some days even suck. Big time. And GusGus seem completely honest about this. Third track "On The Job", which contains the album title ("Twenty four seven!" shouted by excellent singer/crooner Daniel Águst) in its lyrics, circulates around this kind of everyday tiredness. It's easy to read the recession and the complete screw-up of the Icelandic economy into the track and the album as a whole, but let's not get ahead of ourselves... what CAN be said is that we all relate to this mood every now and then; sometimes things aren't that great and sometimes you just do what you do. Sometimes it's a bloody mess and that's all there's to it.

I'm probably sounding as if the album is extremely bleak, and it is kind of bleak in places, but don't worry; there's also light in there. You just have to kick the darkness a bit to find it. The lyrics might not be hopeful but there is aural redemption in the never-ending machine beat (most tracks clock in at the 8 to 11 minute mark) that keeps on going when everything else screeches to a halt. Add to that the transcendence of the artful tweaks and squelches of the Doepfer synth that is the backbone of the album.

Final track "Add this song" adds a brighter tone to the album. "Add this song to your heart, let it beat in your chest, real hard". I love how the synth chords are slightly out of synch with the beat. Kind of human. Flawed. Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Nevertheless it's a great track.

I've walked the cold and police ridden streets of Copenhagen (police ridden because of the climate summit which most definitely screeched to an indifferent halt) with this in my iPod and it's the perfect soundtrack. Warmth bleeds through the cold surface as the album progresses. That's something to acknowledge. A recommendable album if you're in the mood for it (i.e if you're grumpy and tired of winter ... huh huh :) )
Do yourself a favour and check out this album. Along with GusGus' back catalogue. It's worth it.

A few tracks from the album in chronological order:





First single "Add This Song" with a video to go with it:


"Add This Song" remixed by Gluteus Maximus (Jack Schidt and President Bongo). From the "Add This Song" single:

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