Grumbling Fur: Preternaturals (The Quietus Phonographic Corporation) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, July 4th, 2020  

Grumbling Fur


The Quietus Phonographic Corporation

Aug 29, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

When Grumbling Fur released their Furrier debut three years ago there was little indication that they would soon be topping Album of the Year lists (well, one list at least) and collaborating with internationally-beloved musical superstars (well, The Charlatans' Tim Burgess at least). As compelling as it was, Furrier's largely wordless, jam-based, rustic Krautrock was always going to remain an acquired taste. Their next release, Alice, saw Grumbling Fur strip down from a quartet to a duo (Daniel O'Sullivan and Alexander Tucker) to embrace a sound that, although akin to Tucker's more accessible psych-folk solo work, still remained at some distance from that elusive province of GREAT THINGS.

That changed with the release of 2013's stunning Glynnaestra. This melodic, electro-tinged trip had Mojo magazine spluttering that Grumbling Fur's "potion" had been "perfected," Dusted Magazine thought the LP was "not quite of this world," and it made The Quietus "want to take drugs" (as if they need any coercing, the glue-sniffin' beatniks).

Critics often harbour a perverse fondness for music they think is "difficult" for others to enjoy. They sit there in their berets, stroking their goateed chins, making out that they appreciate the compositions/improvisations on a higher level than you mere philistines with your "Blurred Lines" ringtones and ironic Motörhead clothing. Yet even the most hard-boiled, Derek Bailey-adulating, card-carrying mathcore columnist would have to agree that Grumbling Fur have improved as they've grown poppier.

Glynnaestra's follow-up is poppier once again. Tucker has called Preternaturals "our pop record" and, yes, there are several big, bold, and beautiful tunes here. For instance, you could spend a week being rattled inside an industrial tumble dryer and still wouldn't be able to shake the melody of "All the Rays" from your ears. Another highlight is the tenderly throbbing "Lightinsisters" (featuring Burgess) with its suave Erasure/Depeche Mode throwback vibe. Built around Tucker's cello patterns, "Feet of Clay" is cosier still, the aural equivalent of sitting on a fancy carpet, in your comfiest cardigan, near a roaring fire (watch out, though, its lyrics are somewhat darker than the music they accompany).

Preternaturals is poppy then, but in a similar (though not identical) way that Animal Collective, Black Moth Super Rainbow, or Ducktails might be deemed poppy, i.e. poppy but still bloody weird as hell. The album is interspersed with brief interludes of disorienting soundscapes, one of which is a tribute to Throbbing Gristle's Genesis P-Orridge, which might give you some idea of where this pair are coming from. Their more "normal" songs, meanwhile, are coated in layers of DIY electronic experimentation and often anchored in gloriously unusual loops.

By crawling their way out of the primordial soup of obscurity, Grumbling Fur have evolved from an unsightly and marginalized lizardy-creature into a big, cuddly and certainly furry bearish mammal that likes to dance around in a brightly-patterned muumuu while its old reptilian buddies continue to screech and hiss from the surrounding undergrowth. By doing so, the 'Fur is forging a bold new path through the thick forest of psychedelia. (

Author rating: 8/10

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