World travel hasn’t been too easy to do during the past few years. But some intrepid explorers keep searching out new horizons. Fired by fascination, they journey all over the globe, learning and sharing whatever they can, absorbing and synthesizing traditions, and making unlikely connections. guUs is an artist like that — a legitimately worldly musician who has brought his curiosity (and his songbook) wherever he’s gone. Originally from the Netherlands, he’s immersed himself in the musical traditions of his former home of London. While he currently calls San Francisco home, he has a deep fascination with New Orleans and the American South.
All those influences and more are audible in the music guUs makes: a gorgeous fusion of Old World art song, sophisticated jazz, experimental Tom Waits-style blues, touches of psychedelia, the cutting edge of prog, the storytelling sensitivity of Broadway and the West End theater, and spirituals and early gospel, that all takes influence from artists like Robert Johnson, John Coltrane, and Otis Redding. Except for collaborations on sax and with African drummers on the rhythm section, guUs does it all himself: writes the lyrics, sings the songs, directs the videos, and plays all instruments. Every guUs track is an adventure; every song documents a push beyond the artist’s previously established limits. Yet somehow, guUs never sounds restless. No matter how much he plays with rhythm, melody, and expectations, nothing is ever forced. His recordings are self-contained worlds, absorbing, complete, and full of color.
“Moonhangin Man” shows guUs’s commitment to experimentation, surprise, self-expression, and a sense of fun. The track is all smoothness. This is guUs at his most urbane, singing out his regrets over lost love and the art (and challenges) of letting go, all while keeping a hungry eye on the future.
There’s a ghostliness to the “Moonhangin Man” video, as the artist walks the deserted streets of London, exploring his old Mile End neighborhood after dark. Just short of Tredegar Square – near the old neighborhood of the famous killer Jack The Ripper – we watch him get into a driverless car, close the door, and cruise off to his next adventure.