Grumbling Fur - Preternaturals
An offbeat and memorable collection of avant-pop from the underground psych duo
(The Quietus Phonographic Corporation)
While Alexander Tucker declaring Preternaturals to be ‘our pop record’ could be misleading, there’s no denying that the third album from Grumbling Fur (the duo of Tucker and Daniel O'Sullivan) does wander some rarely occupied passages between wyrd folk and pop melodies to create an offbeat and memorable collection of avant-pop.
Not surprisingly, Preternaturals builds on the blueprint laid by last year’s slow-burn success story Glynnaestra, a distinctly English take on psychedelia that clattered mordantly against the kitchen sink (often literally, with cutlery and kettles used as instruments). Here they dial up their astral pop tendencies while still straining to unmoor themselves from folk traditions. Pastoral sounds waft around amorphous electronic tones to create gently propulsive melodies with a hypnotic, almost shamanistic edge added by the duo's mantra-style vocals.
There are innumerable references that could be listed (detectable influence of Depeche Mode, Aphex Twin and Coil, and of peers in sonic exploration The Phantom Band), but it is ultimately a world unto itself – a kaleidoscopic trip on a steady footing. Their weirdness always somewhat concealed by lush harmonies and winsome hooks, it’s barely noticeable that ‘All The Rays’ starts with a chorus; or that the blissful sway of ‘Pluriforms’ is actually composed of fried circuitry and ghoulish vocal cuts; or that ‘Lightinsisters’ is about as alien as synth-pop could possibly sound.
O’Sullivan describes Preternaturals as ‘fear that human beings are outside of nature … everything can be elucidated by nature but we don’t have access to that’. Few bands can master the art of the uncanny, yet these songs have eerie undertones within them, a satisfyingly irksome feeling that they’ve fallen into place as part of something far bigger. Grumbling Fur may be the kind of band so attuned to the other side that they’re destined only for cult appreciation, to be labelled ‘ahead of their time’, but one thing is for sure – you won't regret stepping into their strange world.