Think of Belgium – what’s the first thing you envision? For a lot of people the first thing that comes to mind is probably chocolate, beer and other forms of consumable indulgence. But for an increasing percentage, it’s progressive and off-kilter music. There must be something in the Belgian waters as of late for the last decade has seen the country birthing some of the most experimental, wonderful and straight up weird artists to be found in the entirety of Europe. One such band that are following in the footsteps of their countryfolk in Raketkanon and Brutus are The Guru Guru.
The Belgium five piece already showcased their aptitude for disregarding genre conformity with their 2017 debut PCHEW, but their latest record see’s the band diving headfirst down the rabbit hole of musical insanity. Produced by Wouter Vlaeminck (Raketkanon) and mixed by David Bottrill (Tool, King Crimson), Point Fingers is a wild and idiosyncratic look into the intricate inner mechanisms of The Guru Guru. Through a melting point of indie-math, unbalanced post-punk and psych-noise the band have weaved a release that’s utterly unique and characteristic.
Point Fingers immediately set’s the record’s mentally warped tone with the mechanical clicking of ‘Mache’ - a key lined ode that sounds and looks human on the surface, but with hints of surrealism hiding underneath. This sense of bizarreness comes forth to the surface with the subsequent ‘Charmer’, a track of shifting gears that sounds akin to a hammer wielding serial killer reeling off a shopping list before competently breaking down into Gregorian chants. What follows these two introductory tracks is a series of movements that see’s The Guru Guru welding together new sounds composed of dissected genre conventions – often simultaneously in the form of tugging and pulling polyrhythms.
Whilst this all sounds like a bit of jumbled sonic shambles, such amalgamations are conducted with subtle finesse and make for arresting alien earworms. ‘Ex Alexander’ and the pop snaggletooth of ‘Delaware’ are tracks just designed with repeatability in consideration, with such nonconforming and shifting rhythms requiring repeat analysation in order to be fully enjoyed. In relation, unlike some the peers they keep company with, Point Fingers isn’t too alienating, and in some cases, rather appealing to those new to such musical progression through it’s familiar structures.
What isn’t immensely evident but totally crucial to the record is a sense of urgency and compulsion. The bizarre stylings and fusions are fuelled by human experiences. This is evident on ‘This Knee On Ice’ which is a track documenting insomnia through post-punk, discordant metallic shredding and finally, total discombobulation. Another track that highlights this is the most jolting track on the record; And I’m Singing Aren’t I’. It’s a swift minimalist track that see’s tender and sombre vocals sprawling on a mattress of assorted strings. It’s totally unexpected and given it’s noise ridden company, totally jarring.
There’s a lot to take on board and analyse, but Point Fingers greatly awards patience and investment through repeated plays. It’s outsider prog rock, but it’s void of the alien soundscapes and languages employed by Raketkanon and free of the disorderly perplexity associated with acts such as King Crimson or King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. In all, What The Guru Guru have constructed with this record is an off-kilter offering that can be deeply analysed by those who enjoy such detailed exploits but also one that can be casually enjoyed by passing fans in the mood for fun art that strays far from the norm. Regardless of where you sit on such a spectrum, we fully recommended diving into this rabbit hole of musical madness.
Point Fingers is out now via Luik Records & Grabuge Records
The Guru Guru will be touring later this month in support of Point Fingers alongside Poly-Math. Dates below.