Normally, I am not a huge fan of electronic music. The genre has been overrun by computer nerds rather than by musicians and the result has been a steady diet of clever “beats” and not enough substance in the music itself. A band out of Seattle is rapidly changing my opinion, however. Gumshen has just released their third album in three years and it is a refreshing take on the electronica genre. The album aptly titled “DigiBites” fuses electronica, EDM, and progressive rock ‘n roll into one enjoyable whole. Make no mistake, the four band members; Ron Hippe, Jan Ciganik, Dennis McCoy and Chip Reno are authentic music makers and use electronic instruments as Jimmy Page uses a theremin. It is a tool to create their music, not music created by a tool.
In addition to hypnotic beats reminiscent of the best work of the krautrockers, there are compelling bass lines, funky guitar licks and lyrics that, although may be repetitive, are complimentary to the musical style. It is evident from a casual listening of the album that these musicians are deeply rooted in their influences and have a basis on which to build. Music has become so disjointed it is sometimes difficult to fit certain bands into certain narrowly defined genres. For example, when you talk about EDM, which even breaks down further into dubstep, house, trance, rave and the list breaks down even further. I suppose one would have to classify Gumshen as an electronic band mainly to give the listener an idea as to where they live in the music spectrum but honestly, Gumshen is a rock band that happens to use a heavy dose of electronic instruments to make their music. The operative word here is “band”. Gumshen is indeed that and if their music isn’t enough to grab you, you should check out their stage show. If the video accompanying the song ‘A Scene Like That’ is any indication, this band has it all together. Great tunes, compelling presentation and a complete understanding of who they are and their place in the music landscape.
The standout tracks on the album are the aforementioned ‘A Scene Like That’, ‘Be Here And Now’, ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ and ‘Pick Up The Slack’.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.