I first encountered this eclectic three piece when I was at HRH Prog last November in stunning Pwiheli, the Wales coastline is always a favourite of mine, and three nights (& two days) of top notch prog was an absolute joy.
I do like the longer form festival style of gigs like Bristol’s famous free Harbour Fest, or indeed the numerous Rotherham Rocks that Martin curated over the years.
You always find there’s bands you’ve wanted to see for ages, bands you’ve not seen for ages, and several bands who haven’t even crossed your radar but make a massive impact.
GU-RU are such a band, a progressive trio, fronted by keyboard wizard (he even wears a shiny cape) and vocalist Spreadbury, Naomi Perera (flute & vocals) and drummer Malcom D’Sa, and from the go their energetic and eclectic set, with an unconventional mix of instruments, no guitar or bass on here, drew me in.
So, when I knew their album (which is due to be released on Friday 12th April) was imminent, I thought, I’ve got to get this in my lugs.
Blimey, I wasn’t wrong, the musical blend of Perera’s flute, D’Sa’s intense drumming, and Spreadburys keys, makes a rich musical palette, to build their sonic temple on.
Opening with the EDM flavoured, energetic, music that you can dance to Flex is a perfect introduction to the Gu-Ru sound, mixing some fantastic flute work, an array of bouncy funky keyboard sounds, and that metronomic, powerful percussion, it puts a great big smile on your face, which stays there throughout the whole album.
The band are an exciting creative force, and their musical chops are on full display throughout this sparkling debut, single Kingdom Within for instance has had extensive airplay on BBC Radio 6’s Tom Robinson show, and he’s a chap who knows what to look out for.
(GU-RU live at HRH Prog – photo by James R Turner)
It’s hard to believe sometimes that this album is the work of a trio, as Lee’s keyboards and Naomi’s flute weave intricate musical motifs, whilst Malcolm’s drumming is never less than entertaining, interesting quirky little fills, and a powerful back beat helps to anchor the sound, like on the instrumental Glass Houses. That’s awash with 70’s synth sounds, and soaring flutes and is hypnotically building, flowing into the funky Heavenly, with it’s rhythmic dance feel, spaced out prog funk feel, and some real great big phat squelchy synth riffs.
Whilst the vocal harmonies of Lee and Naomi are sublime throughout the album, and not one single song outlasts it’s welcome, their infectious music, innate musicianship, and sense of experimentation that flows throughout this record makes it a striking debut and an enjoyable listen.
I can guarantee you’ll be hearing more from GU-RU.
GU-RU Tales from the Ashram
Released 12th April 2019.
Available on CD or download from https://gu-ru.bandcamp.com/
1) Flex 5:45
2) Kingdom Within 4:30
3) Where Were You 4:59
4) Cosmic Rain 4:12
5) Loving You 4:55
6) Asylum 5:24
7) Glass Houses 4:26
8) Heavenly 4:50