Gurun Gurun – Kon B (Home Normal)


There’s weird, and then there’s Gurun Gurun’s Kon B. For the first time in my years of writing for this wonderful website, I’m almost at a loss for words. Like I said, it’s weird, of that there’s no doubt. But weird is such a vague word. After all,The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka is weird, as is Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, Bjork’s Medulla and Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, as well as The Beatles’ “Revolution #9” and John Cage’s “4’33’’ ” and The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift”. As well, weird doesn’t have to mean beyond understanding or commercially unviable. Animal Collective, Ween, Kate Bush, Devo, Laurie Anderson, The B-52s, Frank Zappa and King Crimson are all undoubtedly weird, but that hasn’t stopped them from forging successful careers in music or from occasionally having an impact on the charts or from writing songs that can still be recognised as ‘music.’ All of these examples still possess some core of musicality that has enabled them to become recognised by certain segments of the general public, even if it is only via an awareness of the artists’ different musical backgrounds.

But Gururn Gurun are weird in a way that almost unarguably negates a wider reach, and not just because they’re are working in a crowded field and relatively unknown when compared to the above artists. Instead, it’s because Kon B is so weird that there isn’t a good enough way to describe it. At times it’s almost abstract, the sound coming close to that of ambient music, full of long electronic drones and glacial synthesiser movements underpinned by a thick bed of hums and pulses. At other times, Gurun Gurun take an almost deconstructionist approach, reducing short musical passages played on “real” instruments to their component parts, reframing single guitar strums or bass-clarinet lines and making us hear them anew. And then they’ll move onto something more improvisational in nature, the interplay between the members resembling a subdued version of free jazz; and then onto something a little more abrasive, the tones jagged and the atmosphere chaotic; and then onto something hypnotic; and then onto something collage based; and then onto something minimal; and then onto a wall of noise that is oh-so-briefly overwhelming.

It seems almost pointless to analyse Kon B song-by-song, as it flows beautifully and feels like it was designed with a purpose. It’s a ‘proper’ album, and Gurun Gurn have eschewed the contemporary fad for presenting a collection of songs that seem to have little in common – the same musical motifs and atmospheric backgrounds and ghostly vocal phrases are repeated time and time again throughout, sometimes with a variation and sometimes not, sometimes for a lengthy amount of time and sometimes only briefly. The end result is an album that is so much more than the sum of its parts. All I really can say is ‘wow.’ You just have to hear it…


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