Like a haunting, subtropical journey, Grundik + Slava's Frogs utilizes field recordings, dissonant wailing vocals, and moody drones to paint a tale of frogs and their surreal rain forest home.

The project Grundik + Slava formed while the duo attended university in Tel Aviv; even though Grundik now resides in New York City, this unusual project continues to flourish. Frogs is meant as the second chapter in their "Fauna" series, following up 2004's ...For Electronics and Birds. It's an interesting piece of work that dabbles heavily in ambience, and is rife with field recordings that lend it a very organic sound. In fact, it feels as if Grundik + Slava's intent is to immerse one into their world, weaving an exotic world populated by strange frogs, birds, and other peculiar inhabitants.

With a thick brush of fuzzy electric guitar, "The Forest Made of Rain and Frogs" parts a veil between our world and theirs, revealing a knobby forest rife with croaking frogs and chattering crickets. Electronics soon make their presence known, emanating warm brassy waves of reverberating synth and deep bellowing horns, adding an air of malevolent tension to this nocturnal scene. These synthetic textures depart with the arrival of "A Frog Gets Over His Fear of Water." Here, birds caw and warble overhead, their whistling cry causing the frog to panic, characterized through honking quizzical synths. In the distance, snares clack like snapping reeds while bog water splashes and sloshes and a distant woman chants and howls, becoming a foreboding sign of this amphibian's journey. "The Woman of the Forest and Clouds Like Sheep" is the epicenter of this human presence on Frogs, and also the source of this tale's conflict. Tense metallic drones pinch at one's nerves as it rolls in like a storm front, and bubbling electronic rubble grumbles like thunder, setting up a perfect mood for a priestess' grim ritual intonations. Upon entering "The Forest's Song For Big Red Frog," our protagonist flees from this shaman, yet her tribe is quite aware of the frog's escape. Peals of drums rise up as they go on the hunt, their bongo timbre rollicking and tribal driven on by the priestess' voice, which has risen to a banshee's wail. Our frog does his best to distance himself from the bloodthirsty humans by diving back into the croaking and squeaking denizens of the forest, and to its fortune, after a few minutes the rhythms of the hunt trail off. A bit of soundtrack emerges from the woodland chatter in "The Travel of Water Frog to Neighbour's Forest Through the Rains." In this piece, we find our frog departing his marshy home, with dulcimer-like notes reverberating as if tracking his hasty progress. As his self-imposed exile progresses, the din of the forest changes, its insect chatter changing from crickets to the constant buzzing of flies. Finally, it concludes with "Wet Frog Getting Cold," a rather somber ending where the unfortunate frog has fallen into a dream state. It shivers towards death, haunted by memories of the forest priestess. As this lengthy piece drifts on, it is as if the frog is being pulled down some dark corridor, the echo of cold metallic rods clashing in its hollow expanse. Finally, one can hear the gentle crash of waves upon an underground shore. Perhaps the frog has been dragged into the underworld and this is the sound of a stygian river bank, for it is quite a morbid end to his tale.

Without words, Frogs is quite an interesting journey through Grundik + Slava's imagination. Sort of like an amphibian version of Richard Adams' novel, Watership Down, one can sense the frog's world, the peculiar women of its forest, all painted like tales out of some alien amphibian mythos.


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