Gus Englehorn "Dungeon Master"
Dungeon Master, Englehorn’s Secret City Records debut, is an outsider opus that sparkles with Dada spirit — a playful juxtaposition of isolation, alienation and mildish OCD. Surprising, paranoid, and studded with synths and strings, Dungeon Master is deeper than a cellar and blunter than a club — a shivering introduction to an artist who’s finally arrived. “I let my subconscious do the driving,” Gus admits, and as you listen to these 10 tunes, it’s difficult not to do the same: to sit back like a dog with a two-legged daydream; like a fisherwoman with her net; like a snowboarder with a mouth full of powder.
Before he made the record in a cabin in the woods, he lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he fell in love at first sight with a woman from Québec, a girl named Estée Preda, who plays drums like Moe Tucker on salvia. In those days, Gus was a professional snowboarder — crisscrossing the world as a weird and world-class talent, kick-flipping through videos, shredding the gnar, posing in corporate-sponsored sunglasses. Before that he lived in Hawaii — on a lava field off-grid, with his folks. And before that in Alaska — in a hamlet called Ninilchik, where his parents fished for salmon and he and his brothers ate moose and pizza, played Nintendo, and also pretended to be wizards.
For almost all of Gus’s life — from Big Island’s sunsets to snowy Utah pistes — he dreamed of being a songwriter. If he couldn’t be Dylan, maybe he’d be Daniel Johnston, or Frank Black and The Pixies, or maybe Darby Crash and The Germs. And when he finally emerged — first on 2020’s Death & Transfiguration and now here on the 34-year-old’s label debut — he had found a sound that was dark and delightful, fun and demented, packed with dynamics and the chug of a hysterical guitar.