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Gumshen: Progtronica

Starting out seven years ago under another guise (Menthol James), Seattle's Gumshen basically do the reviewer's job of (attempting) to describe the music they create, by simply calling their latest album Progtronica. OK, so it's not quite as simple as that, with elements of Prog, Electronica, Dubstep, 80s Pop and straight up Rock all being fused together to create something similar to lots, while never quite being exactly the same as anything. "Bell Ringer" illustrates what follows quite aptly, a thumping bass beat underpinning a surprisingly roaming guitar line with great effect, while the vocals "lalalalala-laaaaaa" over the top. Real words are also employed but if I was to pick out one area of Gumshen's new chosen genre that doesn't really connect, it would be the vocals which come across as disinterested and remote. The effect certainly add to the 80s vibe but if anything they actually remove a lot of the melodic vibrancy which plays over the drums and synths. If I was to pick out a second area to gripe over, then I'd also suggest that the overly busy drums could do with a tone down as well, even if the actual beats are impressive.

Unlike some Dance or Dubstep, melody is key here, even if it is the off kilter kind displayed in "Stipulation", where everything kind of pulls in opposite directions while still somehow reaching the same destination. To illustrate diversity "Fine One To Talk" then weaves a violin line through the most effective vocal on display, resulting in the most middle of the road, calm Rock on show and also the song which stands up best to repeat listens. The ever busy drums return on "Liquid", but they are merely an introduction for a languid bottom end and sliding guitar line which brings Dark Side, Pink Floyd immediately to mind. Although things plummet on "Bait & Switch" through some awful and simply annoying synth sounds, which are broken up by Rage Against The Machine bursts of guitars, before unexpectedly Talking Heads becomes a reference point... although the vocals here really do gnaw at the nerves... Leaving the nearly modern Marillion meets Electronica via Jazz of "Fragile We Are Castles" to close out what can only be described as a thoroughly ambitious journey through ideas and styles.

Now I have to qualify things and say that on the whole Dance and Dub are things I would happily go without forever more, so those more inclined in that direction will possibly derive much more of interest here. However there's no denying that Gumshen should be applauded for taking such wide and varying ideas and, on the whole, fashioning them into a collection of music which does impress and grab the attention. In truth there's probably a fair distance for them to go yet to truly convince the more Prog and Rock focused folks out there to soak up the beats and samples, and possibly the same issue may work the other way regarding the synths and riffs. While in truth the vocals may be an issue for both.

Still, if you like Rock, Prog and Dubstep and Dance and Electronica, then Gumshen will certainly tickle your imagination. Others may be hugely impressed, if slightly less convinced....

Track Listing
1. Bell Ringer
2. Stipulation
3. Fine One To Talk
4. Liquid
5. Bait & Switch
6. Fragile We Are Castles

Added: January 25th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Gumshen Online
Hits: 1758
Language: english

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