York band Gynoug are set to release their self-titled first album and York Calling get a sneak preview.
By Blue Wilson
Being a very visual live performance based band it was greatly intriguing to listen to Gynoug’s debut album. Starting out together as a recording project in 2015 in Jack Wood’s home studio in York, Gynoug (taking their name from scrolling shooter video game Wings of Wor) have been working on this eclectic, cinematic debut album ever since. Produced by Jack, it is heavily influenced by dream-like film soundtracks (think Tarantino meets The Wizard of Oz) and unconventional storytelling. An experimentalist approach is clearly fundamental in the evolution of their music.
Gynoug consist of Jake Fisher (vocals, lyrics, keyboards), Jack Woods (guitar, synth and violin), Callum Sierbien (bass/pedals) and Tom Gabbatiss (drums, vocals). The album sees an enrichment of instrumentation and guest appearance from Hayden Tompkinson of ZiZ on saxophone, as the band seek to further their experimental sound.
The first track befittingly entitled Intro is segmented into chapters, shifting like the scenes from a David Lynch movie. A thrashing, eighties, glam rock, striptease fusion subdues to spaghetti western whistling, strings, sax and accordion. Rock guitar kicks in and a riotous cauldron of animal and human noises as Intro gallops off toward the sunset to Jake’s slightly sinister “welcome to the game. I hope you have a good time” (a nod towards the origin of their name) luring us in to feast on the rest of this nine track album.
Eponymous track Gynoug wavers from sixties American rock music vibes, soundtracks and soothing lounge to seventies sci-fi, and then a car chase of guitar and drums. Jake’s familiar demonic dictation roars then, like a plea, shifts and salutes some more magical guitar playing and synths from Jack.
Jungle Worm with tribal beats and chants fades out to enchanted keyboards, synth and bass and a short lived toe-tapping rhythm. This track has an acid jazz feel in parts then hints of drum & bass but interspersed with Thom Yorke style vocals and edgy sampling.
Lengthier track Count Bachelor, a melancholy tale of bachelordom, maybe, is musically reminiscent of The Doors or Elephant’s Memory with Jim Morrison spliced with Bowie-esque vocals. Fading out beautifully, then on to dreamlike Daughter of Eden with its swirling swooping intro’ and a cornucopia of harmonies raining down to Jake’s soulful siren song, demonstrating the band’s musical deftness and versatility.
A spidery cautionary tale Spindleshanks announces itself with Elbow style arrangements, playful pitch and eight-legged marching electro drum and xylophone beats. Gynoug takes us on a tripsy, whimsically wonky meandering through this charming childlike tune.
Wicker-like Burning Man, with post punk, psychedelic rock bass intro’ has you then chased up a steep hill with fantastic tempo and drums courtesy of Callum and Tom. Cuckoo’s Song (Xenochrony), seemingly in reference to Frank Zappa’s studio-based xenochronistic musical technique, starts off with a faint Cuban, Latin flavour overlaid with grungy art rock vocals. A plethora of dreams are tangled up in their final track, Dream Soup which spins a web of oriental and sci-fi flavours with bewitching xylophonic melodies. The rousing climax of this broth is like a well-deserved round of applause.
The four members of Gynoug are certainly extremely talented musicians and have a refreshing thoughtfulness and profound understanding of their influences and cultural references in their song writing. The album is quirky and surprising with flickers of familiarity. It has a fuzzy, frenzied dark side laid out on a warm and friendly rhythmic pillow. The only bed bug is that you are left wanting more or for some tracks to be extended beyond the average four minutes. “When beauty fails to satisfy?” Perhaps, or are these intentional, bite-sized morsels ensuring that you will be back with the hope of gorging further on mystical Gynoug soundscapes? In any case this inaugural offering, with cover artwork by Leander Greve, is well worth the anticipation and an uninterrupted listen.
Gynoug by Gynoug will be released on 31st August 2016, available on Spotify, iTunes and Bandcamp