Review by Foxy Digitalis
There’s already a tendency amongst annoying old-schoolers to view the rush of younger folk improv players as free folk neophytes, disenfranchised noisers with access to fair-trade instrumentation. Too sylvan deep in drone and twisted currents of sound, The Hunter Gracchus are unlikely to care about such pernickety categorisations. They may well use instrumentation reminiscent of a Middle Eastern vibe, but this group totally avoid all the genre clichés and attempts to replicate styles. In fact it doesn’t take any time at all for The Hunter Gracchus to slip off the map into modes of thinking not commonly found in free folk players.Falling somewhere between a rough-and-beatless Muslimgauze and an unanchored Vibracathedral, their music is the sound of engines made of wood and powered by blood falling into flux. Drone lament “New Year’s Eve in Liberatia” is the closest they get to a structure, teaming up with communal inward-facers Chora. Damaging the proceedings with naked vocal loops and an almost-rhythm, things get warped and histrionic before an almost traditional folk fall-out. The heaviest corporeal presence on the record is the flittering tones of muezzin calls and prayer string sounds on “For Naguib Mahfouz”. There’s a desert sky reverb that hides the true source of these sounds, the song’s pumped organ murmur merging everything into one source like a delta of mirage rivers opening into a sea. There’s no clear A-B path through “EP1”, its best to sink in and let the brain negotiate its own road through the layers. Their strong storm sways of drone and stem of melody form rippling waves across the tracks, the notes hastening to follow their sisters into drone.
8/10 — Scott McKeating, 4th March 2008