Grund is the new band project of Tom Grundman from rural Derbyshire, UK. Grund spent years in the Bristol music scene playing in various bands and music projects. He has since moved to the countryside and is pursing his own sound, culminating in the release of his new album Sounds and Musics. Grundman composed, arranged, performed and recorded everything himself, with the help of guest singers Haya and Josefina (aka Lost Cat).
Grundman explains: “I think it’s fair to call Sounds and Musics a progressive pop record, though I’ve also described it as having romantic, psych-prog songs. I prefer not to stick to conventional song structures and I’m very happy to put in extra beats in some bars, make use of polyrhythms and introduce complicated musical ideas, but I always want to stay catchy and entertaining.”
Grundman recorded at home using Logic Pro X. He used a selection of “weird instruments and gadgets that I’ve collected in my travels such as a Zither and a Bubul Grang (Indian Banjo).” Mixing and mastering was by Bryan Longhurst from his home studio in South West England.
I’m not sure how often the bands sent to me reflect Divide and Conquer’s understanding of my personal aesthetic, but once in a while I get an album like this that fits me like a glove. Grund’s music does sound like pop on the surface, but surrounding that surface like alligators in the moat are thrilling experimental touches and a fearless “try anything” approach. Some of the mixes are stark, and some of the overdubs are right on the edge of digital oblivion, but the totality reflects a larger creative vision I can totally get behind.
“More Moor” fades in with a cloud of distortion which slowly morphs into a solid beat. Sharp, prominent bass plays against the background keyboards. Grundman double-tracks his English-accented vocals, with sweet interjections by guest singer Haya: “Can you dance, can you sing, can you dance?” The beat becomes thicker and heavier as the keys mutate and flirt with even more distortion. Ultimately I’d call this song electro-pop: it refuses to sit still but never loses that catchy beat. Grundman also used an Ebow for the very first time on this track.
“Life goes nando” has a bell-like beat reminiscent of a carnival shooting gallery. The bass is immediately more prominent than before, and the vocals louder and upfront, with several layers of overdubbing. Quirky Beefheartian guitar figures fill in the spaces between the vocals. While having very interesting sounds, this song is a bit repetitive. Haya and Lost Cat return for very close-up vocals in “everybody loves,” a super short track. They both reminded me of Yoni from the experimental band Gong. Lost Cat follows up with Grundman on “love song” which features a jerky rhythm with stabbing chords and a terrific double-speed guitar duet break. Love the lyrical scheme: “Im trying to write you a song, but I don’t really know if I love anyone / now I’m trying to write a love song, but I don’t really love anybody / but if you could love everyone / what if you could love everything.” The song stops in mid-melody, which I always enjoy.
“xsylvania” has a classical-sounding acoustic guitar with high end drum beats. Somewhat shrill but exciting guitar melodies with a bit of Steve Howe flair pepper the tune. Haya adds her beautiful harmonies toward the end, until finally the song is engulfed in noise. “What about the things we said / and in the end we’ll all be dead / I know, I know, I know!”
“the blessed one” is a mostly vocal track with lyrics that connect to each other like a step-ladder atop a miasma of overdriven guitars and synths. I caught a hint of 10cc or Godley-Creme in the approach here. “lectronic moodz” is a slice of retro-futuristic space rock with dated-sounding keys. “Is this the song you want to hear?” Grundman sings. Honestly, I felt this one was a little noodle-y though it’s got cool sounds like all the others. “The Way Out” features Grundman playing his childhood piano, though it sounds like he may have digitally edited or sped up his playing a bit. The piano overdubs paired with the busy drums and parrot squawks are very cool. Basically, this song is a collection of ever-changing riffs. The stacked vocals start halfway through, with a hint of Beach Boys, and the song concludes with some nasty electric lead.
“All The People” is a more intimate construct, like a summing of the Lennon and McCartney acoustic modes. Grundman even sings “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Then we move into a thrilling experimental section, with cool bongo-like percussion and back again. This is one of my favorites though I might be the only one to say that. “Greyskull” is another song with stark Beefheart-like guitar riffs overlaid with Grundman’s great vocals, ringing keyboards and “cartoon footsteps” percussion.
“Ana” slams in with a wall of dissonant electronics, but that all clears up for the song proper. By now Grund’s basic song structure is clear: unusual beginnings, leading into a sort of pop form with off-kilter breaks and interjections, all held together by vocals that hold true to the harmonic center. “Last Dance” is appropriately the last track, again with Haya on guest vocals and use of the Ebow. Vocals, acoustic guitars and heavy bass dominate this tune. It’s a sweet, almost melancholic sendoff, at least for these guys.
Grund’s music is certainly not for everyone, but if you veer toward the crazy, experimental and unusual in your music, look no further!
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