cone magazine

Review: Grumbling Fur – Furfour


The fourth album from London duo blends elements of psychedelia, synth pop and Brian Eno’s post-psych to produce a record that unfurls with each listen.

According to Thrill Jockey, the latest work of Alexander Tucker and Daniel O’Sullivan was built through “fantasy and sci-fi, Carlos Castenada, shamanic mind warp, house ghosts and meditation”. Upon multiple listens of their fourth record, ‘Furfour’, one cannot help but untie numerous layers unheard prior, making it very difficult to disagree with such a statement. The album was made over three years, with the duo being joined by Bardo Pond’s Isobel Sollenberger and Charles Bullen of This Heat in several parts. It illustrates their onus to involve “kindred spirits, open souls and players we respect”. Incorporating two distinctive and creative personalities in their own right, the record is rather extraordinary in its ability to explore various genres. It is this combination that makes ‘Furfour’ so accessible to its listeners.

Similar to previous work, ‘Furfour’ is an amalgamation of psychedelia, loops, samples and synth pop. Its 12 tracks were produced by originally creating sounds and ideas, then molding the emergent structures around them. In their own words, “songs are about including the process in the finished piece and spontaneous ideas are laid down and a structure starts to emerge from this source”. The first track of the album, ‘Strange The Friends’, sets the tone for the album with a complex yet captivating joint of harmonised vocals, accompanied by the pleasant appearance of Charles Bullen playing the autoharp. In perhaps their most upbeat track, ‘Acid Ali Khan’ is described as being “like Depeche Mode in a stone circle”, promising four minutes of electronica-disco, with evocative pop synths holding prevalence throughout. ‘Heavy Days’, ‘Milky Light’ and ‘Golden Simon’ are indicative of Brian Eno’s pop tastes, with the latter being very reminiscent of ‘Another Green World’. The lyrics “the sun keeps shining on heavy days” reverberate throughout the entire album.

The three instrumental tracks reveal their brilliance by creating their own unique and beautiful scene. ‘Molten Familiar’ consists of a range of electronic effects, depicting a train journey through the streets of the Middle East; ‘Pyewacket’s Palace’ creates an awe inspiring, cinematic ride through tranquil and stunning landscapes; ‘Come Down and Watch Them’ portrays a picture of an exhausted individual witnessing a mirage as the heat bounces off the tarmac looming in the distance. Over the course of the record, one begins to understand the innovative relationship between this unique duo, and how they channel all of their creative energy towards each other. This is characterised as “joy, bliss, friendship and expression” and stands as the “central keystone to the Fur universe”.

The finished product of Grumbling Fur’s ‘Furfour’ is multi-layered, atmospheric, and borderline hallucinatory at times – encompassing modern psychedelia with experimentation. Yet the album has enough charm and fluidity to be welcomed by the wider audience. Despite some opposition towards what some view as a melody scarce collection, this album imparts ample innovation through its ineffable and unequivocal candidness, which allows the listener to decrypt its rhythmic contributions upon further attention. In essence, FurFour takes you on an engaging and hypnotic escapade.

Furfour is available for purchase here.

Words by Matthew Barlow


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