Unconditional Surrender


Independent release, 2016


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Many good things have come out of people becoming sober, and in the case of Michael Friedrich it meant forming Gurus. Forming, is, of course, a loose term, as Gurus features a rotating cast of contributors with Friedrich being the central axis of the outfit. Containing sounds that emanate from trash cans as well as saxophones, the result here is an experience of punk, garage and '90s influenced alt-rock that is self-described as 'cult-like'.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“On Fire” starts with post-punk droning and chant-like vocals, and paints a tense atmosphere with both organic and computer-generated sounds. “Believers” follows with more straightforward synth work and rumbling guitar work, and while the mood is certainly still on the darker side, there's an industrial feel as well. “Man And Beast” is one of the quietest moments here, where the focus shifts to percussion, and “Channel” is also subdued, with repetitive singing and twinkling that sounds like a fading dream. “Only Natural” picks up the pace, and at five minutes, it's the longest track and one of the best, unfolding like the soundtrack to a chase scene in a spy movie. With a post-punk groove and intricate guitar work, it's not far off from something released on Dischord Records circa 1992.

“Going Home” leads off the second half with keys and chanting, where an eerie backdrop is met with a hypnotic post-punk feel and busier instrumentation. “Outside Your Fence” is an album highlight, with a foundation that moves between talking and sparse, and loud and jagged, and would fit well in a sci-fi flick. “Stardust Motel” follows and sounds like the antithesis of this, as it's a dance song with world music-influenced percussion and a pop-friendly angle. “T.M.C.” is another dark song with a tribal feeling, and “All Around” finishes the album with screeching saxophones, thumping drums, and mesmerizing melody disguised as a dark anthem.

There's no way of denying that Unconditional Surrender is a great album, but it's the sort of listen that just begs to be heard live, and seems that it could leave a much more sizable dent in a live situation rather than on record. Since this is not an option for most of us, I'm quite content hitting repeat on this disc.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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