The concept of preternaturalism succinctly captures the uncanniness of psychedelia: referring to naturally occurring phenomena that nonetheless appear magical or mysterious, the preternatural is where the familiar becomes strange, where our beliefs in the empirical and rational are troubled. Grumbling Fur’s third album is nothing if not well titled, then: its druggy, English-accented ambient-pop pulsates as if issuing directly from Brian Eno’s echo-chamber. But where ‘Another Green World’ unsettled its own portrait of pastoralism via the dehumanising filter of techno-utopianism, ‘Preternaturals’ locates the grain of the strange within the pastoral itself.

Songs proceed mantra-like as billowing textures of soft-focus electronics and languid strings envelop half-chanted vocals:  “you knew it before you gave it a name,” goes the chorus of standout ‘Mister Skeleton’, evoking the barely perceptible spectres that haunt the duo’s politely eccentric music. Lead single ‘All The Rays’ issues from an eternal present of almost eerie pleasantness, the track’s circular melodies tracing deliberate contours without resolution.

This is a record tinged with a faint sense of unease, if not quite surrealism; indeed, on occasion ‘Preternaturals’’s reserved demeanour feels excessively tasteful, as if straying too far towards the former in its marriage of the mundane and the mysterious. At its best, though, ‘Preternaturals’ finds Grumbling Fur continuing to make refined art-pop that derives considerable force from gently destabilising the familiar.


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