Review 4 out of 5
[-] by Heather Phares
Three years on from her Greie Gut Fraktion collaboration with Antye Greie-Fuchs, Gudrun Gut returns with Wildlife, a set of songs that’s as hard-edged and precise as her solo debut, I Put a Record On, was dreamy and seductive. Gut recorded this album holed up in the north German countryside and incorporated field recordings of her surroundings into these tracks, but their crispness suggests crystalline frost patterns and bare winter trees instead of a lush landscape. Throughout Wildlife, Gut doesn’t shy away from nature’s harsher side, whether she’s singing about “A garden full of veggies/A garden full of blood” on the single “Garten” or asking “How can I move without killing something/How can I stand still without dying?” — a question that gets at the very essence of existing within nature — over a heavily processed orchestral loop that is nipped in the bud over and over again. Gut collaborated with the Modernist’s Jörg Burger on these songs, and together they nod to a spectrum of electronic music styles across Wildlife, such as “Mond”‘s sleek echoes of Detroit techno or “Frei Sein”‘s intricate layers of African-tinged percussion. However, as with I Put a Record On, the main attraction is Gut’s compelling vocals and observations, which remain singular. “The little things are big,” she whispers on opening track “Protecting My Wildlife” while chirping birds surround her, and it sums up the appeal of her detailed, hypnotic approach, which she takes in directions as different as “Erinnerung”‘s guitar pop, “Tiger”‘s dark sensuality, and her charmingly deadpan take on Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” A bit of I Put a Record On’s fever dream loveliness even resurfaces on the bubbly, weightless “Little Nothing,” and Gut closes Wildlife with two of its most evocative tracks: “Leaves Are Falling” makes the most of the contrast between her smoky voice and its stark surroundings, while “Slow Snow” takes that starkness in a more impressionistic direction with a tiny, looped melody that turns into a winter reverie. While Wildlife’s sound is significantly different than I Put a Record On, it has just as much evocative power, reaffirming that Gut is capable of channeling many moods with skill and flair.