With the charming, life-affirming ethos that playing music with your closest friends becomes more joyous with each passing show than going it alone does, Connecticut’s The Guru are a mysterious, technicolour relic of a time gone by, a troupe of young companions that enjoy the same simple pleasures.
Ah, the dreaded comparison. Nothing misses the point and narrows the mind more than an argument about how a band used to be better, the “yeah, but compared to..” closing statement that invariably discredits the album at hand as well as faux-validates the opinion because of its loaded proposition.
Brown Horse plays out like an audible approximation of a millennial ceiling-starer’s vacant state of mind, their eyes wide open but only painted on. Its introspections, from various places on the scale between personal and philosophical, are awash with digital interference and the winsome remnants of home recording – plosive pops and static hisses – the sum of which is as well met as a warm bath.
In a vacuum, the sunset is a medley of the warmest shades of red and orange immersing the entire sky, a sight that’s globally gazed upon with utmost reverence, held as a standard for that which is naturally and superlatively beautiful. As a daily recurrence, though, it is also the soft fabric that bridges the space separating day and night when they’re at an impasse, the motley in-between of binary oppositions.
The digit 0, as a representation of nothing, can be frightening. To have earned nothing or to have nothing left are gut-wrenching notions, all contained within the infinite expanse of that bleak oval. But conceptually, crucially, it is also the starting blocks; the habituated point of return for dusting off and trying again, a reprieve for should you ever blindly jump the gun.
Mollusc has a knack for expelling its energy in tight bursts, like if the imprisoned Titans of Greek lore had burst from a vigorously shaken-up bottle with the cap bludgeoned off. Havoc and pandemonium pepper with pressure the ephemeral tracks, scattered slabs of stone that can roughly fit together to make a mosaic of some amorphous creature heaving its guts up.
Languishing somewhere in the limbo between attaining a logical understanding of human nature and suffering in a binary loop of having no idea, Henrietta are one of those rare sapphires in an otherwise listless coal mine; the type to swing for the fences rather than shuffle quietly behind them in confused uncertainty.
With the calculated flick of a flailing chain, another asshole takes a tumble from his two-wheeler; his leathers skidding across the cold, hard ground in glorious hopelessness as we overtake with a fist raised and a grin earned.
Lizard King, then, is much more than a staunch oak – its roots are firmly planted in the ground, absorbing all the nutrients so graciously provided by mother nature, but its canopy is the lush doormat to a distant, transcendental serenity.
To call Jan Nemeček’s latest offering “atmospheric” is to downplay what Fragmented ultimately is: downright ethereal, a roll and echo in the night sky that draws as much from the turning earth beneath your feet as the stars that wheel above.