Reviews

Grandbrothers
All The Unknown

(City Slang)

7/10

It’s hard to know how neo-classical will progress to neo-neo-classical when the genre’s forerunners have long since created their own instruments, let artificial intelligence take over the digitised sequencing and made a healthy living from the royalties of café playlists. How do you uncover a cartographer’s curiosity when all of the world is mapped?

Tucking IDM and electronica in the branches of overgrown hedges and concert pianos in the depths of Berlin’s nightlife, All The Unknown nevertheless positions itself as a surprise, if just for placing instruments where you don’t expect them. Entering their second decade of experimentation, the third studio album by slow-working duo Grandbrothers delves further into the same analogue-digital divide they’ve always reckoned with. 

When they stay focused, the highlights are plentiful. From the propulsive tread of the title track to the soothing flow of ‘Four Rivers’ and its playful, minimalist introduction ‘The Goat Paradox’, All The Unknown has its rich and compelling moments. The sinking of stray arpeggios on ‘Auberge’ into a massage-table drone is the most magical sound Grandbrothers have yet made, and ‘Organism’ is a banger plucked straight from the greenery. 

The punchlines-come-club-anthem-drops do wear thin in places. ‘Unrest’ spreads across a tired build, and piano loops become drawn out like jarring elevator music (albeit a pretty exciting elevator). It’s not quite the grand experiment they might think it is, but for the most part it’s a very good listen.

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