It’s been two years since GusGus graced us with their enigmatic Kompakt debut “24/7”. This album was return to form for the trio, earning much acclaim and fanfare thanks to its conceptual rigidity and pure glamour. Conceived solely with the help of two precious Doepfer modular systems andDaníel August’s all-pervasive vocals, it could have been easily characterized as GusGus’ unofficial live album. If you had the chance to catch one of their many live shows on their exhaustive world-wide tour, you know what drive and emotion their show brought to the stage and crowd. Let’s fast forward to present day.
The trio comprised of President Bongo, Biggi Veira and Daniel August felt the urge to reunite. They set up a makeshift studio in a summer cottage in the depths of the lava field. Secluded in silence and beauty they began working on their seventh studio album and have delivered “Arabian Horse” – a full length that brims with highlights showcasing GusGus’ versatility and stunning songwriting ability to creative levels that we feel is their greatest accomplishment in their 15+ year history. A vast array of illustrious guest musicians and singers abound on these powerful ten new songs. Most prominently, we welcome the long awaited return of former band member and gifted vocalist Ur?ur “Earth” Hákonardóttir who appears on the three songs “Be With Me”, “Arabian Horse” and “Over”.
Högni Egilsson recently released a wonderful album with his band Hjaltalín and lends his voice to some of the album’s most memorable and deepest moments. Samúel Jón Samúelsson contributes the elevating, goosebump-inducing string arrangements, David Thor Jonsson contributes accordion and the banjo. Even an un-named Gypsy combo leave their mark on “Arabian Horse”! Compared to GusGus’ stripped down predecessor for Kompakt, “Arabian Horse” is much more “in your face” – the songs brim with big gestures, enthralling hooks, pop and soul! GusGus have perfected the craft of balancing that fine line between commercial pop and underground dance music. But who needs compartmentalization when we’re talking about music and emotion?
Take the powerful schaffel (aka shuffle) anthem “Deep Inside” which makes use of big room chords you’d normally hear in more commercially tunes but balances that with a ferocious bass line and vocal duel that belongs to anyone. This sincerity in their music carries throughout “Arabian Horse”. Another prime example of this is the Högni fronted “Within You” – strings converge with his breathtaking vocals backed by a thoroughly addictive techno bass kick. It’s a fact that GusGus retrace their original influences and have created a dance pop album that equally resonates a forgotten period of early ’90’s dance pop (think The Beloved), classic house music and urban soul a la Massive Attack. But make no mistake, “Arabian Horse” does not sound like pure retro in any way. It’s deeply rooted in the sound of today backed by one of the most state-of-the-art quality productions Kompakt has released to date. Still need a tag? Why not: Icelandic Hi-Tech Soul.
(via Iceland Music Export)