When a band embarks on a new record there is a very prominent possibility they will do exactly what they did on the last record; or if they’re a particular Canadian band, their motto is exactly that, “record/repeat.” But if you’re the underground juggernaut Gumshen, then by all means, please do exactly what you did on the last record.
With the release of Progtronica several thoughts become glaringly apparent. First, just as we saw with Everything What We Recorded, no two songs are identical. But yet again, this doesn’t become distracting; it adds fun levels to the overall experience. Secondly, no one who wasn’t releasing music twenty five years ago makes music like this. The guitar and the melodies are refreshingly retro precisely where they need to be without becoming a replication of something we’ve heard a million times. And lastly, the quartet solidifies the fact that they can take a range of sound and mold them together into an electric song which feeds a hell of a record.
Dividing the story of Progtronica into six parts the Seattle quartet spends a third of the album with tracks over seven minutes and all but one of the remaining tracks coming in over four minutes each. Like a musical Tardis the album appears from the outside like any other album. But inside it is expansive and full of nuances, you’ll discover something new every time you explore. The blues infused, electronically charged, linguistically refreshing progressive style emanating from the album is a vortex of great musical minds colliding in one sensational experience. To encapsulate the entire sound, imagine David Byrne, David Gilmour, Kraftwerk and Alex Kapranos handling the production and influence of a little known experimental group from the Pacific Northwest. Granted this is all apparent in the opening track “Bell Ringer,” especially around the four and a half minute mark where the guitar solo you’ll hear explains everything. As a matter of fact I found it odd, and perhaps it is just coincidence, said solo actually starts at 4:29.5 where Mr. Gilmour’s “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” solo starts at 2:09.5. Maybe bands just need to queue up their solos at _:_9.5 and they’ll find the magic. But I digress. On the whole Progtronica is a layered underground masterpiece where each of the six parts contributes just as boldly, just as richly as the others and makes for not only a fun but a deep listen.
If you haven’t given Gumshen a listen yet there must be something seriously wrong with you, your internet connection or your local record store. These guys are fantastic. Pick up Progtronica here.
Greg is a regular contributor and co-founder at Nanobot. With each beat of this album he is becoming an even bigger fan of Gumshen and he is certain you will too.