Album Reviews

Gus Gus – Mexico

(Kompakt) UK release date: 23 June 2014

Gus Gus - Mexico Obnoxiously Sexual is a bold statement to open an album with, and its pretty clear what Birgir Þórarinsson (better known as Biggi Veira) has on his mind, as he talks about his lover touching him in the car as a dark, bass-driven beat plays out beneath him.

Lust and seduction plays out, as the lovers can barely control themselves. This is all brought to a new level as sweepingly seductive strings play out, and add a new romanticism to the song. It’s a big opening from the act who call themselves Gus Gus.

Gus Gus, of course, are an Icelandic institution, originally formed in 1995, who play electronic dance music ridden with soul, funky basslines and minimalist, streamlined synths. It is also scatted with brass, strings, beautiful melodies and its tracks – for the most part – work as much as dancefloor fillers as they do for a chilled out evening listen. The album experiments and draws on a number of electronic genres to bring together something that is at times mesmerising, even if it doesn’t always hold perfectly.

Tracks such as Sustain are a demonstration of how the band meld together their techno and soul influences. Beginning with an almost lo-fi sound that pans between your headphones and leaves you dizzy, it suddenly bursts into new life with a pounding bass, and seductively swims around your head. It’s full of pent up sexual tension – a feeling which is first established with the opening track – and brings to mind sophisticated clubs with fancy cocktails and with outrageously flirtatious characters doing the rounds. Crossfade and Airwaves follow a similar formula of low octave synths and four-on-the-floor beats that build up into bigger dance tracks.

Then all of a sudden there is God-Application, which opens with a string quartet. It sounds slightly out of sync with the not only the rest of the album, but also the rest of the track, which seemingly has nothing to do with this opening section. It doesn’t seem to make sense and renders the strings part as an additional, surplus to requirements oddity. The rest of the track is a chilled out electronic meander, blissed out and beautiful. Without the strings at the start, it would have been the best track on the album.

Then there is Mexico, the title track, and it is one of the more erratic moments. It juts around a crazed riff that sounds strange and exciting at the same time, with the structure of the song visibly taking influence from trance music with its repetitive building of syncopated, overlapping layers of melodies and beats. It sees the band really come out their comfort zone and pushes forward down a slightly different path.

Finally, there is This Is What You Get When You Mess With Love. It’s alright. But in contrast to that bold statement that the album opened with, it feels ever so slightly anti-climatic. But perhaps that’s what Gus Gus are trying to show you – that when you get wrapped up in the excitement and lust of new love, and start messing around with it, you’re heading to a bad ending.

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More on Gus Gus
Gus Gus – Mobile Home
Gus Gus – Lies Are More Flexible
Gus Gus @ KOKO, London
This Music Made Me: Gus Gus
Gus Gus – Mexico