Icelandic collective GusGus has gone through various lineup changes over the course of its 15-year career. Originally conceived of as an outlet for artists, actors, and musicians, the group became much better known for its slick techno and house music. Several members have gone on to notable careers producing advertisements (Arni & Kinski) and providing songs for The Lord of the Rings (Emiliana Torrini). The current inception is a trimmed down trio. Gusgus’ new album, 24/7, is its first for German label Kompakt, giving a warm boost of creativity to an already flourishing label better known for more clinical electronic music.
The album opens with “Thin Ice,” a track that begins with undulating synthesizers and airy vocals, before switching halfway through to a nicely throbbing house beat. As you may imagine from the title, “Hateful” is a more sinister affair, but pleasurably so. A crisp, mid-tempo kick drum provides the bedrock for echoing bass thwacks and Daniel Agust Haraldsson’s R&B-inspired vocals, rather incongruously spitting some venom: “I’m feeling hateful because you pissed me off / And I want to hurt you / I want to make you suffer.” “On The Job” is a much more lighthearted affair, its electro-disco subwoofer-rattling beat soldiering on for over ten minutes, before it, too, undergoes a bit of a metamorphosis about halfway through.
Clearly, GusGus isn’t an electronic band content with making straightforward dance music. Sure, they can craft hypnotic, repetitive beats, but you will usually find some sort of twist along the way. And that’s what keeps their music interesting.