Music trying to push at the boundaries of sonic convention often gets things very wrong. Either it tries too hard to be different, is too “out there” for even the most adventurous and discerning tastes and collapses into an undignified, and unlistenable, mess, or it just tries to push together two or more genres that just don’t work resulting in something lumpen and laboured.
Grouse, however, delivers such notions of sonic experimentation perfectly. The latest album, Interpolate, is gently infectious, supple, subtle and nuanced and it is testing some wonderful musical boundaries to see how far they will stretch. But most important is the fact that the music is founded on a sense of harmony and rhythm, and even at its most challenging it is built around easy, hypnotic grooves and addictive energy.
My Eye, for example, runs on the same circular slow-burning intrigue that made Pink Floyd intros and interludes so effective, building tone and texture slowly and purposefully and often, as is the case with this track, suggesting an explosive pay-off which never comes. It’s called not pandering to the audience’s expectations.
There are gentle electronica slow jams that give the likes of Portishead a run for their money with Unend, Regress is chiming and charming built on ethereality vocals and otherworldly sounds and Verbatim is a slightly off-kilter groover, full of mystique and understated majesty.
Accompanied by a brilliant cast of guest vocalists, Interpolate is a gorgeous album, one which plays with ambient soundscapes and jazz experimentation, delicate dance vibes and drifting sonics, electronic grace and atmospheric vibes, it is euphoric, sophisticated and meditative. It sometimes of these things at once.
Some artists think that you get noticed by being big and clever, boistrous and bombastic. Grouse, being the smart chap that he is, knows that there are better ways to grab people’s attention.