Girondolini - Girondolini (Album Review)

Girondolini is a musical project by Vienna-based jazz-trained drummer July Skone. Formerly of the high-concept, in-your-face project Gudrun Von Laxenburg, Skone's recent outing sees his impressive drumming style take a backseat to sample-based plunderphonics pulled off with quicksilver precision. Featuring a cast of collaborators, the self-titled debut album is a rhythmically-charged offering of offbeat musical excursions, mostly down well-trodden paths, but always with a skip in its step. Skone delivers manicured mixes via manipulated sources, danceable grooves, and introspective wanderings; his proclivity for left-field experimentalism, which, for better or worse, is written all over this hodgepodge album of attention-grabbing rap rock, chaotic pop, and tacit instrumentals.

The big-band energy of opener "Breathe Deep", featuring the lyrical stylings of NY rapper PremRock, is an audacious opener and album highlight. Framed within Skone's tightly-constructed and ornate mix, the song jumps out of the stereo and galvanizes with its production trickery and high-octane, Beastie Boysesque splendour. The vocals are wisely kept under this track's surface of magical production, allowing the music to stand out. However, "The Monk", featuring Harry-Dean Lewis, is more vocal-heavy and switches from laid-back hip-hop to a melodic chorus with a memorable refrain ("It's been great to meet you, but I must go"). These first two tracks are followed by the instrumentals "Gloomy Monday" (the title of which accurately depicts its mood), "Friday afternoon in a multiverse" (the title of which accurately depicts its multifaceted nature), and "YoYo" (the title of which accurately depicts its capricious energy), all tracks which could soundtrack an advertisement for an energy drink just as well as they could your journey to work through rush hour human traffic. 


In other places, Skone's sample-centric approach renders any songwriting decoration for music that already has a narrative. Such is the case for the cowbell-rich "Multiplexer", the excellent vocal by collaborator Eloui lost amidst music which oscillates between the fascinating and the nauseating. When Skone lets instrumentation take centerstage, like on the titillating "AC" feat. Sam Irl, there's more balance and cohesion of character. Unlike most producers who work from the beats up, Skone doesn't ignore musicianship, adding impressive skill via jazzy hi-hat work acting as a garnish for the otherwise inoffensive lo-fi beats. While "Winter's Violin" is the type of background study music that conjures images of copied/pasted audio blocks as you listen, there's flavour and personality to be appreciated. 

Girondolini is guided by feeling. Skone works purely off instinct on this album, rarely second-guessing himself as he expresses his storehouse of unbridled energy while allowing his attraction towards big beats and colourful electronica to manifest without restraint. Whether or not you will enjoy the entire album is beside the point; there are enough peaks to contrast the troughs.