[sic] Magazine

Mushroom Giant – Kuru

It starts with footsteps, birdsong, the faint clatter of drumsticks, and the feeling that something strange and subtle is approaching you. Well, at least for the first twenty-five second — after that, it’s all weirdness.

Australian band Mushroom Giant ‘s debut ‘Kuru’ is a string of psychedelic, proggy soundscapes that never really waver; they just twist across your brain in a haze of synth and guitar. In fact, that is the album’s biggest problem: no ups or downs! It starts off with ‘Graven Image,’ a ghostly prog number that drifts along on a wave of stabby drums, tornado-esque synth and hazy guitars. It moves slowly from one psychedelic soundscape to the next almost without warning — suddenly all the music will die away except the drums, only to rev up again with a whole new sound.

After that, they dip into rainy prog-rockers with a folky edge (‘Autumn Leaves The Dead,’ ‘Pigeons’), languid violin-led tunes (‘Sirentha’), murky slow-burning rock (‘Shadows,’ ‘Woman Heroin’), epic psychedelic expanses (‘Bones in the Attic’), and a three-part blast of fire-blasted, psychedelic rock’n’roll at the end. A lot of new bands and artists haven’t yet solidified a sound that is ‘them,’ so they try out everything and end up all over the map. Mushroom Giant don’t have that problem — they have a strong core of psychedelic prog that links all these songs together, as well as some strong blurry guitars, synth and drums as sharp as razors.

There are no vocals here, except for some wavering vocals that warble through ‘Bones in the Attic’ and ‘Shadows’ with nary a spoken word. Oh yes, there’s some audio clips of what sounds like movie dialogue. But they’re quickly swamped by dark waves of guitar and the bittersweet loops of violin, as if to remind you what the music is all about. So what’s the problem? Perhaps it’s that almost every song goes along a completely straight line — it starts, meanders along, and eventually stops. It’s easy to drift out of their music because there isn’t any buildup or climax to the songs, and when there’s an entire album of the stuff, you end up pretty much lost. ‘Kuru’ is an album best appreciated one song at a time — Mushroom Giant has a solid central sound, but it’s just hard to stick with an album that never goes up or down, left or right.