PARACHUTE FOR GORDO- ‘Best Understood by Children and Animals’

It will surprise no one that a band named after a simian spaceman, with song titles like ‘Bandage of Scat’ and ‘Put Your Hands Up If You Like Sloths’, haven’t always taken things seriously. And Parachute for Gordo undoubtedly delight in the improvised, the unconventional, and the downright silly. But that doesn’t mean the Aldershot trio lack dedication- a band doesn’t make it to their fourth album by accident- or skill.

After having produced their previous records alone and on a shoestring budget, ‘Best Understood by Children and Animals’ marks the first time the band have taken their mathy, (mostly) instrumental sound into a specialised studio environment. They hired a proper producer and everything. There’s no sense of outside influence here though, or any attempt to rein in their oddest impulses. Instead, this new approach finds them expanding their sound in every direction to make something bigger and better (and best of all, weirder) than before.

You can hear it straight away. Opener ‘Dalai Llama’ starts with some soft, sunny, alien pings that are immediately the cleanest sound this band have ever produced. Then there’s a swell of distortion before sparkling, spritely, not spiky guitars dance over a neat, persistent rhythm, and more and more new layers are added until the band have built a brilliant wall of noise. And everything sounds crisp and complete. In short, it’s one of the best songs Parachute for Gordo have ever written, recorded with the best production they’ve ever been afforded. 

‘Markhor Parkor’ is great too, a bright, shifting, ever-changing thing that’s almost like jazz, except, y’know, not terrible. ‘A Dingo Ate My Discos’ is less diverse but no less dynamic. Built on a driving beat that doesn’t stop for seven minutes, it’s less organic, more mechanical, but still somehow alive and primal and made to move you. And if ‘White Noise Bear’ feels less than fully formed, a suitably loud but not so satisfying ball of fuzz, then ‘Alpacacino’ (as well as having a great title) is a thorough, dark, grungy number- an imposing storm cloud of tons of tension and just a little relief. Elsewhere there are elements of krautrock, dub and dance in the mix too. And a trumpet. But there’s no clash of styles, no confusion. Parachute For Gordo pull it all off. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this band have got… something. I know I’m supposed to have more for you to go on, but exactly what they have got, isn’t clear, I just know they’ve got something. They make music that is hypnotic, that feels both familiar and unique. They can conjure darkness but play with a peaceful, positive vibe in places that feels rare and welcome, too. And, while they aren’t the first instrumental band to sound like they are telling stories, Parachute for Gordo have definitely found their voice here. Seriously.

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