Arabian Horse


2019 repress; gatefold 2LP version. Includes download code. Iceland's GusGus graces Kompakt with a second album, after their enigmatic debut for the label 24/7, which earned the trio much acclaim thanks to its conceptual rigidity and pure glamour. Conceived solely with the help of two precious Doepfer modular systems and Daniel August's all-pervasive vocals, it could easily have been characterized as GusGus' unofficial live album. For Arabian Horse, their seventh studio album, President Bongo, Biggi Veira and Daniel August set up a makeshift studio in a summer cottage in the depths of the lava field. Secluded in silence and beauty, they produced something that really showcases GusGus' versatility and stunning songwriting ability. A vast array of illustrious guest musicians and singers abound on these powerful new songs. Most prominently, this album features the long-awaited return of former band member and gifted vocalist Urður "Earth" Hákonardóttir, who appears on three songs. Högni Elisson of the band Hjaltalin lends his voice to some of the album's most memorable and deepest moments. Samúel Jón Samúelsson contributes the elevating, goosebump-inducing string arrangements and David Thor Jonsson contributes accordion and the banjo. Even an un-named gypsy combo leaves their mark here. Compared to GusGus' stripped-down predecessor for Kompakt, this album is much more in-your-face -- the songs brim with big gestures, enthralling hooks, pop and soul. Take the powerful schaffel anthem "Deep Inside," which makes use of big room chords, a ferocious bass line and a vocal duel, or "Within You," where strings converge with breathtaking vocals and an addictive techno bass kick. GusGus retrace their original influences, creating an album that recalls a forgotten period of early '90s dance pop (think The Beloved), classic house music and urban soul à la Massive Attack. But make no mistake, Arabian Horse does not sound like pure retro in any way. It's deeply rooted in the sound of today, backed by one of the most state-of-the-art quality productions Kompakt has released to date. Still need a tag? Why not: Icelandic hi-tech soul.