Günther thrive on auditory excess

The second record. It’s a right of passage for almost every studio band and it’s never easy. In a worst-case scenario it’s tagged as the sophomore slump. At best it’s the followup record which implies a comparison to a predecessor. In the case of the latest full-length from Calgary instrumental rockers Günther neither of those descriptions is apt. Certainly their debut EP 2005’s The Greatest Televised Swordsman was a release to be reckoned with. The powerhouse trio packed more musical prowess into three songs than most bands can pull off on a whole album. This time though everything is bigger.

With 12 new songs the as-yet-untitled album is longer clocking in at over an hour. With the help of guest musicians the band’s membership swells to epic proportions. Everything from the arrangements to the production is that much bigger. The band has matured too and even though guitarist Colin Mitchell drummer Scott Moffat and bassist Scott Munro are still in their early-to-mid-20s they play with the confidence of scene veterans. If you put it in cinematic terms this isn’t a followup. This isn’t a sophomore release. This is a sequel. And not one of those crappy rushed-to-the-theatres-to-cash-in-on-a-good-thing sequel either. The new Günther record is the Godfather Part II of instrumental math rock.

Where The Greatest Televised Swordsman had all the propulsive drive of those legendary Chicago post-rock bands from the ’90s the new album delves deeper incorporating organic instrumentation tape loops horn arrangements and melancholy selections on par with artists on the Constellation Records roster.

“For the first release we had ideas for doing similar stuff like that but what we wanted to get done for that first short EP was the straight-ahead stuff” says Mitchell. “So we tried to get the live-off-the-floor feeling and balance and try not to meddle with too much else. For this album we wanted to do a lot more with it and with Scott (Moffat) playing in Jay Crocker and the Electric Apes you know that band has a killer horn section.”

Crocker helped the band arrange the horns with heartachingly beautiful results but he isn’t the only collaborator on the album. Günther has reunited with producer and The Summerlad bassist Arran Fisher. When it came time to mix this beast down Diego Medina of Lovesinger was tapped to make the most of the rugged bass riffs and cacophonous breakdowns.

Like any good sequel though this album hasn’t lost sight of what made the first instalment so powerful. The boys in Günther still eschew verse-chorus-verse in favour of start-stop-start. They still change time signatures like most bands change their minds and they still deconstruct the idea of a song to deliver epic off-kilter symphonies.

“We like switching it up for ourselves as much as we do the audience” says Mitchell “especially since we don’t have any vocals.

“Say I’m getting bored of playing this riff the same way each time so why not emphasize this part or cut off this beat here every second time. So you just kind of ever-so-slightly make things more interesting for everyone.”

Sound and scope aside there is one final element that makes this as-yet-untitled album from Günther fit the sequel analogy — the budget. Any good Hollywood producer will tell you sequels cost more to make. To that end Günther is taking over The Stetson with their friends in The Summerlad Azeda Booth Lint and Mount Royal in an attempt to raise the money needed to finish post-production on the album.

If that goes well the band will shop the album to some of their dream labels give it a proper release and get out on the road to tour it internationally. It also means the band won’t have to be satisfied with just a one-two punch. This sequel will spawn a franchise and Günther will get the chance to be the music moguls they’ve always wanted to be.

“We did a lot of straight-up live-off-the floor type thing” says Mitchell. “We experimented with added instruments after the fact. For the next album we might want to try more writing in the studio and making more of a studio oriented album and using the studio as a tool a lot more. It makes us want to try something different for the next one.”

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