Before Montréal-based singer-songwriter Gus Englehorn was signed to Secret City Records, he lived in a cabin in the woods and wrote the upcoming LP Dungeon Master, which may be the cutest, heaviest, and strangest rock n roll record you’ll hear this year. Before he moved to the cabin he fell in love — in Salt Lake City, Utah – with a drummer, Estée Preda, who plays like Moe Tucker on salvia. Before meeting her, Gus crisscrossed the globe as a world-class snowboarder. He shredded the gnar, appeared in weird-ass videos, made covers of magazines, and was sponsored by a sunglasses company. But before that, he lived in Hawaii – on a lava field, off the grid, with his parents and two brothers. And before that, in Alaska – in a hamlet called Ninilchik, where his parents fished for salmon and he and his brothers ate moose and pizza, played Nintendo, and pretended to be wizards. All normal. All ordinary. “Dog dreaming of being a man / and a man dreaming of being a dog,” Gus Englehorn sings. “Run rabbit run!”
What’s important to know is that for almost all of Gus’s life – while he was getting bullied on the Big Island, while he was gleefully nonsenseboarding, while he was down in a basement groping for chords – he dreamed of being a songwriter. If he couldn’t be Dylan, maybe he’d be Daniel Johnston – or Frank Black and The Pixies or maybe Darby Crash and The Germs. And when he finally emerged – first on 2020’s Death & Transfiguration and on upcoming LP Dungeon Master, on the 34-year-old’s label debut – the sound he had found was dark and delightful, fun and demented, packed with dynamics and the chug of a hysterical guitar. “Me voilà!,” he declares mid-way through the throws of “The Gate,” announcing the arrival of a singer who can coo and howl and snarl with his eyelashes fluttering. Englehorn’s electric visions are studded with synths and strings and manic pixie backing vocals, but at the heart of it is he and Estée’s gnashing guitar and drums, turning the singer’s darkest material – like on the stomping, paranoid “Tarantula,” another of the album’s advance singles. Dungeon Master is an outsider opus that sparkles with its Dada spirit – that playful juxtaposition of isolation, alienation and a mildish case of OCD. “I let my subconscious do the driving,” Englehorn says. Dungeon Master is deeper than a cellar, blunter than a club — a shivering introduction to an artist who’s finally, fervidly arrived.
Label: Secret City Records
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