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Electronic - Released February 23, 2018 | Oroom

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Techno - Released March 24, 1997 | 4AD

Gus Gus' first formal album as a full band was a quietly astonishing record -- the "new Sugarcubes" tag which the band gained was always misleading, since instead of that group's fractured avant-rock approach, Gus Gus always tended toward a mix of understatement and chilling power. Also, the collective had its roots much more firmly planted in dance, but not merely modern techno -- everything from exotica (opening track "Oh" prominently samples Arthur Lyman) to grimy hip-hop breaks formed the basis of Polydistortion. Combined with the cool restraint that defines all the band's work, notably present in Daniel Agust and Siggi's almost unearthly calm (but never totally dispassionate) singing, the result is an effective blend of styles that works from start to end. Lead single "Believe" gathered and held the most attention, and for very good reason. The inspired choice of Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Jazz" for the core rhythm sample was sharp enough, but with further arrangements contributing to the dark, glowering funk on display and Agust's subtle singing delivering either a vivid statement of religious commitment or a sly demolition of same, it becomes flat-out brilliant. No less brilliant lyrically and musically was "Is Jesus Your Pal?," with Siggi's almost childlike vocal a hypnotizing call over minimal, gripping accompaniment. Not everything is quite so heavy, though -- "Polyesterday," the other main single from the album, is a touch calmer, with Siggi's singing meshing with the jazz-funk of the track very well, if still cool all around the edges. Plenty of other strong tracks also appear, such as the gentle but no less compelling grooves of "Cold Breath '79," Siggi's vocals softly wafting among the beats, or the extended jam "Remembrance," both hot and cold at once. [Some U.S. editions come with a bonus disc including various remixes of album cuts.] © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Electronic - Released November 22, 2019 | Oroom

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Techno - Released July 1, 2001 | 4AD

Gus Gus' second album, This Is Normal, heralds their discovery that they are first and foremost a pop band. While the spacious, sophisticated electronica they developed on their debut (Polydistortion) is still evident, This Is Normal's smooth, streamlined finish has more than a nodding acquaintance with dance-pop. Though Normal is certainly less weird than its predecessor, it remains floating outside of the mainstream, but swims a little closer to it. Looking to explore individual normality within the album's 11 tracks, Gus Gus' multiple singers and songwriters expound on sex, fame, youth, and love. "Ladyshave" features sly vocals from Daníel Ágúst and a slightly kinky premise, while Hafdis Huld's breathy soprano elevates "Teenage Sensation," "Superhuman," and "Blue Mug" to an icy, remote beauty. As with Polydistortion, Gus Gus continue to be more convincing on their albums' quiet, introspective moments. The mannered chamber pop of "Bambi" and the pretty atmospherics of "Dominique" are among the highlights of This Is Normal, while dance-oriented songs like "Very Important People," "Starlovers," and "Love vs. Hate" probably sound less flat and distant at one of the group's amazing multimedia concerts. The innovative beats and arrangements on Gus Gus' debut are missed here, but This Is Normal is still a fine blend of accessibility and invention. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Electronic - Released March 20, 2020 | Oroom

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Electronic - Released February 26, 2007 | Pineapple Records

On Forever, their first album in five years, Gus Gus takes the spare, linear sound of Attention to an even farther extreme, resulting in a set of tracks that are just a little too streamlined for their own good. As on their earlier work, the poppier, vocal-adorned tracks are among the best: on "Hold You" and "You'll Never Change," Earth holds her own as a dance music diva, turning out strong, soulful vocals that complement their austere surroundings. Collaborator and former member Daníel Ágúst also shines on "Moss," a remix of a track from his chamber music-inspired solo album Swallowed a Star; "If You Don't Jump (You're English)," which pits spoken vocals against twangy guitars and a rapid, shuffling beat, is another highlight. However, most of these tracks are too long and repetitive, a problem that shows up even more glaringly on Forever's instrumentals. Tracks such as "Lust," "Porn" and "Demo 54" feel unfinished and overdone at the same time, looping on the same crisp percussion or bubbling, acid-inspired synths without much embellishment or evolution. Forever isn't bad, but it is frustrating, and ends up feeling more like remix fodder or a Gus Gus loop kit than a full-fledged album. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 6, 2020 | Oroom

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Electronic - Released February 22, 2019 | Oroom

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Electronic - Released January 19, 2018 | Oroom

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Electronic - Released May 23, 2011 | Kompakt

The second release by Icelandic electronica group GusGus on the German techno label Kompakt, Arabian Horse is more of a traditional album than 2009's 24/7 was. Where that disc only featured six tracks, two of which ran past the ten-minute mark, this one has ten, most of which are in the five-minute range. Things take a left turn early, when the smooth synth groove of instrumental opening track "Selfoss" gives way in its final minute to accordion and banjo. The next cut, "Be with Me," features gentle female vocals over a dubby, Orb-meets-Basic Channel track. The accordion returns (briefly) on the third track, "Deep Inside," but otherwise it's a fairly lush house song. That winds up being the formula to which the album as a whole hews -- dancefloor-ready house tracks with vocals, and only a few strange or unexpected noises, mostly at the beginning of tracks. Only the final piece, "Benched," is significantly different from tracks two through nine -- it's an eight-minute instrumental that's closer to IDM than house. This is a good record, albeit one that's not nearly as weird as GusGus' early-2000s reputation might lead one to expect. © Phil Freeman /TiVo
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Techno - Released February 9, 1998 | 4AD

The band's first proper release on 4AD was this single, with an included mix and the B-side "Polydistortion." © John Bush /TiVo
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Electronic - Released February 9, 2018 | Oroom

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Electronic - Released June 23, 2014 | Kompakt

Still driven by original members Daniel Ágúst Haraldsson, Birgir Þórarinsson, and Stephan Stephensen, along with relative newcomer Högni Egilsson, GusGus continue to refine their song-oriented approach on Mexico, their third album for Kompakt. More direct than 2011's Arabian Horse, one of the Cologne label's top sellers of the late 2000s and early 2010s, Mexico plays it straight throughout. All but one selection -- the tugging, gnashing title track, far from a breather amid the album's succession of emotive voices -- is a full-blown song. Just over half the tracks are merely well-produced, enjoyable if not all that stimulating, while others deal knockout blows. Above all others, the ecstatic "Another Life" ("I'm in a daze from your love") is one of the group's best all-time productions, where strings dart around bass drums and hi-hats arranged for a brilliant clamp-and-stomp effect. The immaculate "Airwaves" is an unabashedly festival-ready trance-pop monster that builds momentum in subtle fashion. Taut drums, sparkling synthesizers, and a sweetly spaced-out falsetto chorus make the electro-R&B of "God-Application" as dizzying as anything from Luomo's The Present Lover. Finale "This Is What You Get When You Mess with Love," the only song that doesn't fall within the five- to six-minute range, is lonesome, subdued shuffletech that would fit on a third volume of Kompakt's long-dormant Schaffelfieber compilation series. When GusGus joined Kompakt, the association seemed odd -- almost charitable on the label's part -- but now it makes total sense. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Electronic - Released September 22, 2014 | Kompakt Digital

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Electronic - Released April 20, 2018 | Oroom

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Techno - Released February 17, 1997 | 4AD

A semi-distillation of the band's series of Club Mix singles from the previous year, the first part of the formal 4AD single release of "Believe" mostly concentrates on versions of other tracks. Besides the monstrous dark groove of the brilliant title track, three other songs appear. "Oh," appearing in its full-length version, is pure lounge revivalism of the best kind, not least because instead of simply re-creating it, the band aims at their own synthesis, low, almost whispered vocals snaking among the rhythms, sampled directly from Arthur Lyman. "Cold Breath '79 (Craze)" takes a more jazz-funk approach, but with the same careful balance between warmth and cold delivery that typifies the group's work, chillingly seductive. "Ghetto Belief" is the one actual remix of "Believe" that appears, taking some of the lyrics and putting in a new bassline and breakbeat to align the song more directly with hip-hop, though again with a strange, alien atmosphere. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Techno - Released August 23, 1999 | 4AD

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Techno - Released March 1, 1999 | 4AD

Electronic - Released April 28, 2014 | Kompakt Digital

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Electronic - Released March 31, 2014 | Kompakt Digital

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