Without knowing the process behind Taryn Miller, aka Your Friend’s, ‘Gumpton’ it’s difficult to pin down exactly what it is about this collection of ever-shifting electronica that’s so intriguing. Composed largely from found sounds collected with a field recorder on her family farm in Kansas before being twisted and mangled in the studio, ‘Gumpton’ is a laid bare display of everything that makes up Your Friend as a person, obscured by layer upon layer of otherworldliness. Crafted with an acute eye for drones and loops, it’s in the production (by Nicolas Vernhes of The War On Drugs and Deerhunter fame) and in the mixture of real life and synthesised sounds that ‘Gumpton’ finds its strengths.
Your Friend’s unusual combination of the ultra-real with the unnatural world of electronic manipulation makes for a slightly unsettling final product. Everything feels at once intimate and distant as Miller’s vocals drift woozily in and out of focus, going from a whisper in your ear to a far-off echo in an instant. ‘To Live With’ provides the clearest example of this juxtapositioned strangeness, trickling water combines with a single throbbing drone and restless percussion to form a calm dreamscape that ripples with nightmarish brooding.
There are simpler moments too, and it’s here that Your Friend has a slight tendency to go from drone to droning. Title track ‘Gumpton’ for example, though pleasant enough with its splashy percussion and wobbling synths, never really takes off. This is something that Miller struggles with throughout, the desire to create meditative soundscapes resulting in large chunks where, like the grand landscapes of its influence, seem to stretch on and on without much note.
Fortunately these moments are in a minority. The tranquil beauty of opener ‘Heathering’ sets the bar high and for the most part the remainder follows suit in what is almost entirely a deeply interesting and cleverly crafted debut.