We live in a world where almost all information is available to us, mostly a few clicks or screen taps away. It’s a continuing surprise that ‘cult’ considerations can exist in such an atmosphere of accessibility – and more surprising still that, after eight years plying their trade, instrumental voyagers Parachute For Gordo are still a (mostly) undiscovered gem.
They’ve spent that near-decade honing their sonic craft, and their latest full-length Best Understood By Children And Animals stands as their pinnacle. Opening with the tentative, tapping drums and throbbing noise of ‘Dalai Lama’, we’re spirited away on a burbling bass undertow, passing through gloopy layers of twanging, dreamy guitars. The easy roll takes a sharp left, picking up the pace with some frantic guitar jangling and some movement heavy, upbeat drumming. Opening up into wide-screen sound, the rhythm section nails down the groove with a looping bass hook and rattling snare as the guitar spirals off into shimmering chords.
The trio have mastered the crucial aspect that makes instrumental post-anything so engaging – tension, release, peaks and wide, lush valleys. ‘Markhor Parkour’ clangs in with percussion like a kitchen utensil samba, lush strummed chords ringing clear. Beefy bass bolsters the pleasing, sunshiny vibes before taking us on a wander through mirrored melodies and irresistible grooves. ‘A Dingo Ate My Discos’ is locked-up tense with snaking cymbals and pulsing kicks, laid out four to the floor with a (fittingly) dark disco tint. The tension breaks into bend heavy bass, nasty, sneering grooves impossibly infectious. Just when you think you’ve got the measure of where the trio are leading you, ‘White Noise Bear (I Am The Horse’ slaps your assumptions away with a driving, chaotic punk-skewed helter skelter of clattering drums, bass freak outs and fuzzed-out guitars, completed by breathless shouts as hoarse as the tracks’ namesake.
‘Toucan Play At That Game’ shimmers with splashes of cymbals, noodling along at an easy pace with a strong rhythmic through line. Warm and syrupy, the drums take a tumble under bright guitars and dense layering. The gentle guitars of ‘Snakes For The Blind’ shimmer like motes of light before beginning to spider and trill in classic Parachute For Gordo style, a warm bass breeze gusting through. Beaming and wistful, drums shuffle and move throughout. Closer, and inarguably best titled track on the album, ‘Alpacacino’ springs with wet guitar reverb before inrushing with cymbals and gorgeous harmonic chimes. Settling down into a rhythmic loop, the guitars begin to build tension, the track wrong-footing into a strange atonality, injecting looming menace beneath the clean pop sheen. Fuzzing out and breaking into noisy grunge, the bass and drums mete out a relentless groove as the guitar twist out into FX soaked tremolo before the track ends in a wash of feedback and noise.
Playful, positive and irresistibly easy on the ear, ‘Best Understood…’ is a fantastically satisfying slice of instrumental genre-bending. Between Laura Lee’s pedal-board mastery and the constantly evolving rhythmic one-two of John Harvey and Mark Glaister, Parachute for Gordo have taken the mathy experimentation of the bands’ early days and simplified the equations into a consistently wonderful and engaging listen.
Best Understood By Children And Animals is out Friday 14th February via Beth Shalom Records and can be purchased here.
Words: Jay Hampshire