Frogs. Endlessly portrayed in popular culture as seclusive and homely – often with hidden redeeming features – while being associated with witchcraft and diabolism through their evolutionary cohorts, toads, as well as a disagreeable sight to those of gipsy descent (probably not everywhere, but definitely here in the Peninsula), frogs are a scant reference in the realm of musical expression, having no particularly crucial role either in terms of imagery or inspiration. Contrarily to this generalised indifference towards these viscous amphibians, Grundik & Slava saw fit to dedicate them an entire release, aiming the focus of the album towards an inspired rendition of these creatures’ habitat and, perhaps, of their lives. The atmosphere is masterfully built through a brilliant attempt at aural imaging that unashamedly resorts to field environmental recordings, synthesisers and drones in order to paint an accurate picture; but the use of vocal improvisation gives it a certain Æsopian aura that does not seem to belong there. Certainly, using these themes as background for one of his fables containing frogs would definitely work (more so if we would liken the frequent references to women throughout Frogs with Æsop’s story of The Frog and the Ox) – a use in which “The Travel of Water Frog to Neighbour's Forest Through the Rains” would be exceedingly effective – but the idea behind the song titles conveys something else entirely different. Paraphrasing the band, Frogs “can [be] consider[ed] (...) as an audio book about The Frogs, their friends – the forest and the clouds, their women, their fears and their feats” and while I cannot quite extrapolate on any sort of personification going about throughout the album, it is hinted at in a frankly mysterious fashion.

As far as the music goes, apart from the already mentioned use of samples, synthesiser music (usually extremely well thought-out), drones and human voices, there are some instruments such as a guitar, an ocarina and a bass guitar being used with very specific purposes. They enrich the overall experience but also contribute to make it less identifiable within a specific musical paradigm, which is, in this case, a very good thing. While it certainly stems from the pulsating field of electronica, Frogs eagerly transcends that limitation (in the sense that it becomes too narrow to contain the full gamut of idioms herein explored) and is unarguably hybrid in its melding of the mechanical and the organic, providing an immensely rich experience that transcends the very need to accurately pin it to a specific context. Lesser albums have been dubbed as essential statements in a specific field, and if the idea of a quasi-conceptual album that revolves around the everyday life of frogs does not frighten or amuse you, then this is surely a release you should seriously contemplate purchasing.

Тэги записи: kunstkamera: reviews and interviews