– it really is the best way of describing the latest effort from Gumshen
, which fully embraces artistic freedom and a willingness to experiment with a wide variety of different styles that can be traced all the way from 70’s symphonic prog to modern electronica.
Formed as a traditional guitar-based rock band in north Seattle in the mid-2000s, Gumshen have evolved into a unit capable of producing quality neo-prog that fully embraces digital technology. Progtronica
is perhaps their most fully realised and cohesive work yet, as the styles never seem to clash as you might expect they would.
Bookending the album are the two most progressive songs. “Bell Ringer” sounds like a blend of French electro-rockers Phoenix
with the new age instrumental prog of early Mike Oldfield
. The song reaches its peak in the final two and a half minutes, with a breezy guitar solo played over a simple electronic beat that gets the album off to an impressive start.
“Fragile We Are Castles”, on the other hand, channels Foxtrot
, with the majority of its 8-minutes taken up by instrumental sections. It stands apart from the other tracks by completely forgoing the electronic influences and demonstrating just how well Gumshen are able to replicate their 70s influences.
The rest of the songs explore slightly poppier territory, with “Stipulation” continuing the Phoenix comparisons by boasting a particularly catchy chorus. “Fine One to Talk” edges more towards a folk/indie sound and is definitely one of the album’s more memorable moments.
However, the most memorable track of all is “Bait & Switch” which brings back memories of Muse
’s failed dubstep experiments on The 2nd Law
. Gumshen do a much better job of creating cohesion with this style, though, and while some may find “Bait & Switch” to be a bit of a letdown in an album full of great songs, it’s undeniably the moment that leaves the most impact.
is Gumshen’s most impressive work to date, with skilfully executed experimentation and genre-hopping. While the lack of boundaries may annoy some, Gumshen are proving that music shouldn’t be restricted to any preconceived notions or labels. But above all, it is an enjoyable listen that can be appreciated by anyone who appreciates a bit of variety in their music.