Is This Revolutionary?
THE Indie band of the Post-Rock World.
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? One genre being defined in another? Some bands don’t do it well. Others make history.
Recommended by a friend in Australia, Grün was a difficult find. Only released in Australia on iTunes, this duo is the equivalent of a precious stone: hard to find, but worth the world when you finally get it. From the first track, it blows you away with their powerful presence. What once seemed to be a simple post-rock group converts into a electronic band (think Shiny Toy Guns, but better) with a female vocalist who will seduce you with her dreamy voice. Never staying to one sound, they cover all bases. This album ranges from a post-metal sound to a 65daysofstatic vibe to a feel like Niño Koi (driving base included). The standout track from Greenland, though, is “Among The Bad Apes”, which has a cool, heavy, Gifts From Enola like sound. I haven’t heard much post-rock from “Down Under”, but if the rest is anything like this, I like what I’m hearing.
Rating: 4.5 kegs for a great, entertaining album. Honestly, all I had to do was listen to this once, and I knew. I just knew. Love.
Sunday Herald Sun
FANS of Mogwai who feel a trifle abandoned by the Scottish band's gradual departure from its sensuous sonic textures should feel at home with the debut release by Sydney duo Grun.
Here is a resurrection of what made Mogwai – and related bands Tortoise and Godspeed You Black Emperor! – so appeal- ing, with the delicate mix of piano, percussion and guitars that turn from a whisper to a roar, creating a series of storms and calms that wash across a wide filmic landscape. Singer Katy Wren McNamara adds vocals on three tracks, creating a sound not unlike Decoder Ring, but for the most part it's an album of instrumentals, creating mood and atmosphere and a sense of spaciousness.
File between: Mogwai, Departure Lounge
Download: Among the Bad Apes
- GRAEME HAMMOND
Inpress (Melbourne Street Press)
From the haunting piano notes that open Common Seabirds, the first track from Grün's debut album, it's clear that this is a game changer. The fact that it evolves as a piece to create both peaceful ambience and bone-rattling resonance is a tribute to the group creating it. Greenland, a mostly instrumental release, tosses it's head through genres without taking a step back, whether through instrumental numbers, or in conjunction with the vocal contributions of singer Katy Wren McNamara.
Formed in Sydney in 2005 from the ashes of not-quite-big band Iliad, Grun are a four-piece who, despite their instrumental leanings, wear their musical influences on their sleeves. Think Radiohead, add some Michael Nyman, and throw in a dash of Tool, and the results, speak for themselves. Creativity, exploration and independence are three key ideas that thread their way through the intelligent layers of Greenland, reaching ear-busting crescendos in tracks like Angry Bees, before mellowing the fuck out straight away, with UFO Stole My Sea Lion.
On close listen – and, being an instrumental record, it takes one or two goes around the headphones before one can really engage with each song individually – there's a sense that each song accurately portrays its title. For instance, while listening to Among The Bad Apes, there truly is a feeling that despite the general darkness of the piece, there is undeniable light and positivity through the song, as the reverb-dripping guitar takes flight.
Greenland is a masterpiece. The well-spaces vocal tracks only add an extra dimension, preventing Grün from sounding stale and uninteresting.
Post-rock duo paint another green world
The instrumental/post-rock genre is so oversaturated these days it's a mission to find understated, quality stuff in our own backyard. Formerly known as Greenland, Grün (German for 'green') are multi-instrumentalists Andre Matkovic and Leon Kelly – who were also part of the now-defunct Iliad. Both write film soundtracks and are accomplished musicians – and their debut LP is both a fine collection of well thought-out compositions and a showcase of their not-inconsiderable chops. The opening Common Seabirds is an excellent sonic depiction of oceanic sunset and the guitar lines in Imperfect and Custard are classic Explosions In The Sky-style melody stabs, while guest singer Katy Wren McNamara – whose vocals adorn three tracks here – sounds remarkably like M83's Morgan Kibby. Of further note are UFO Stole My Sea Lion (a dead-set gong for song title of 2010), the aptly named Angry Bees (using the genre's signature quiet/loud dynamics to a tee) and the serene, piano-led Hasina. Included as a bonus disc, Greenland's four-track The Prisons Of Language EP is also a corker.
"It could have been the cover art, which shows Jesus riding some creepy dinosaur on an alien planet, but this one had my interest peaked from the start.
Sydney duo Grün have been earning themselves impressive comparisons to some of post-rock's heavy-hitters lately. The 'for fans of Mogwai' sticker tells no lies, but surprisingly opener 'Common Seabirds'dives straight into a dramatic keyboard section that's almost a minor crescendo itself, lurching into a huge reverb-soaked guitar riff less than two minutes in. While a decent listen, I'm not sure that it really sets the tone for such a brooding and expansive record. Second track 'The Fool' also seems to stumble a little, with Katy Wren Menamara's lead vocal completely dominating the lush, atmospheric instrumentation and confining it to backing track status. I'll admit, I was a bit worried until the arrival of 'Angry Bees,' a soaring instrumental which immediately nails the otherworldly feel the opening tracks seemed to be aiming for.
From here on, the brilliant flashes get more frequent. Instrumental tracks dominate, and the moody effect of the psychedelic ambience really starts to work. While many of the tracks are similar, this works quite well in context. The opening track is re-worked brilliantly into 'Among the Bad Apes,' and achieves the success it didn't quite manage the first time around. 'Use Your Tears'creates a bit of a lull, relying on one repeated vocal line for over two minutes and coming off as a bit uninspired, but thankfully this is followed by a gorgeous nine minute instrumental epic which creeps toward a building wall of noise, only to die off at the last second and give way to shoegaze piece 'Imperfect,' the record's real "oh, wow" moment. Here Menamara delivers a breathy, ethereal lead vocal which carries the song right up until a wall of guitar noise crashes in and obliterates the fragility. Which I guess was the point. The opening half of this track is absolutely breathtaking though, and I can't help but wish Grün would utilise the delicate, ambient approach more often.
More than anything, Grün seem to be at their best when experimenting. The warped 'A UFO Stole My Sea Lion' begins with an introduction that could almost pass for Hawaiian slide guitar, and drifts lazily into a meandering psychedelic haze of looped effects and ambient synths. At some point the guitar sound is twisted into an Indian sitar, and then a looped sea lion bark gets thrown into the mix – half buried, but bubbling up now and then. This really works, I don't even know how, and it makes this track easily the most interesting on the record.
Although Grün seem to save their genius for a few short bursts here and there, the general quality of their offerings is still very solid, and well worth wading through in order to have your mind completely blown a couple of times. Throw in some brilliant artwork and a special edition packaged with a bonus EP and you have one solid release on your hands."
- David Hennessy, The Dwarf
"Look, up there; are those explosions in the sky? Is it a pelican? A flock of red sparowes? It can't be Sputnik; Sputnik's down. Maybe it's God; after all, God is an astronaut. No, wait; it's clearer now – it's passing through the upper atmospheric rock, and settling in what you could groan-worthingly call post-rock space, right above Australia. What is it? Where did it come from? Patience, gentle reader – the answer is not far away (or if you're the sort that reads titles, you already know, smart guy): It's Grün, and it's (well, they're) from Sydney.
Making their entrance into Australia's admittedly relatively barren post-rock scene with their debut LP Greenland, Grün waste no time in reaffirming the idea that we're a country capable of creating quality (largely) instrumental rock, in both composition and production values. With only two members – Leon Kelly and André Matkovic – Grün's songs convey a depth and thoughtfulness that belies their small creative core. The album is "(largely)" instrumental because Grün is, at their base, an instrumental band, but they do have guest vocals provided on three of the album's tracks (The Fool, Use Your Tears and Imperfect) by Katy Wren McNamara, who sounds at times spookily like Broken Social Scene's Lisa Lobsinger, but shines nonetheless.
Reverb and atmospheric tricks are used to great effect throughout, as is the loud/soft dynamic dichotomy that is a staple of all really great post-rock (Common Seabirds, Among The Bad Apes). The earlier references to God Is An Astronaut and Explosions In The Sky were not arbitrary – there really are a great deal of similar sounds and feelings canvassed here on Greenland. Still, Grün overall have managed to draw influence without being obviously derivative, which is an admirable feat for a band without words to defend or define themselves."
- 4/5 Mitch Knox, TimeOff
Alternative Media Group
"The kind of moody, post-rock you'd expect from a band that draws their inspiration from Pink Floyd and Mogwai. Tracks that open slowly with piano keys and crescendo with a splicing electric guitar riff and harmonise with an acoustic 6-string work magic. But the whispering vocals of Katy Wren McNamara are necessary to break the tension and are the highlights for me. The Sydney band (formally known as Greenland) have in their hands a hot little debut album of cinematic proportions. Ghostly, hypnotic and full of abstruse sounds, like a film score to a horror movie, it captures a mood. One of uncertainty, that plays on your fears with even the gaps between tracks making the silence seem eerie and the echoing notes that pulsate like funeral bells underwater. In fact, the whole album feels as if you're walking underwater, weightless, in darkness, the lacking lyrics mirroring your inability to scream. The only comfort is in the three tracks were McNamara lends her voice, it's the sweet relief of a decompression chamber on land. But still has the haunting feel of a Siren luring wise men to their death."
- Alex Harmon, Alternative Media Group