Before Montreal singer-songwriter Gus Englehorn was signed to Secret City Records he lived in a cabin in the woods and wrote Dungeon Master, the cutest, heaviest, strangest rock'n'roll record you will hear this year. Before he made the record he lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he fell in love at first sight with a woman from Québec—a girl named Esté Preda, a girl who plays drums like Moe Tucker on salvia.
In those days, Gus was a 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, and 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, he had found a sound that was dark and delightful, fun and demented, packed with dynamics and the chug of a hysterical guitar.
Dungeon Master, Englehorn's label debut, is an outsider opus that sparkles with Dada spirit—a playful juxtaposition of isolation, alienation and mildish OCD. Surprising, paranoid, studded with synths and strings, Dungeon Master is deeper than a cellar, blunter than a club — a shivering introduction to an artist who's finally arrived.