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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Album Review: Tunng - ..And Then We Saw Land (March 1, 2010)

This is a post blighted by DMCA takedown requests - i've removed the MP3 links but still got a second DMCA, now i've removed the photo too - everything on this page is totally my own work. If i get another takedown request, something is seriously wrong.

..And Then We Saw Land (March 1, 2010)
Full Time Hobby

As pioneers of the folk-tronica movement in Britain from 2003 onwards, London-based folk band Tunng were always going to turn a few heads when they announced that they would be collaborating with Tinariwen for a performance at Glastonbury Festival. Now over, it seems that this year-long love affair of African rock and British folk now lives on purely in its resultant influence, an influence which this album suggests has rooted itself firmly within Tunng's post-2009 songwriting. This is not to say its taken them over, the truth is far from it, but whilst some portions of the recent album delve closer to indie pop (Hustle), and others associate themselves with more traditional British folk and elements of psychedelia (October), at certain points the album feels suitably overdriven to warrant a few African comparisons. The first occasion this occurs as far as I'm aware is during 'Don't Look Down Or Back' - a song where despite shared verse vocals and quietly fingerpicked guitars accompanying simply a vague electronic whir, the mega-chorus contribution and electric guitar lead are certainly suggestive of the respected Tuareg musicians' wake. 

The amount of influences that Tunng display on each of their albums, this not excluded, is monstrous - to categorise them as 'world music' would not go amiss. This again, is another strength that this album plays to. October, around the middle of the 52 minutes, begins traditionally with a reserved pick at the acoustic guitar, but with an offbeat entry descends into a relaxed and somewhat lounge-jazz section. At around 2 minutes, after a lyric of 'winter skies', this hesitates and builds into a psychedelic outro with glitches and samples returning in their full force after their absence from the first half of the album. All the time the music is lightly and calmly accompanied by the hushed dual vocals of Mike Lindsay and Becky Jacobs (curiously also the younger sister of British experimental electronic musician Max Tundra). Santiago continues this theme but with an electronic bassline in comparison to a far more organic vocal and instrumental - the Caribou influence which really comes in to its own towards the end of the album here needs to be re-inforced.

And Then We Saw Land is the latest show of strength from Tunng, categorised by a host of influences which as always manage to set this album out from the last. Two years in the making, the album exhibits elements of electronic experimentation, natural imagery, extended song structures and production expertise all condensed into the indie pop formula - with a few quirky features (such as the mega-chorus as explained here) added in for good measure. If you've never listened to Tunng before, now is the time - And Then We Saw Land marks one of their most accessible yet. If you're already a fan, this album provides interesting new angles on ground covered and fantastic new ones to match. Either way, Tunng's latest is a production masterpiece and a certain candidate for album of the year.

Buy ..And Then We Saw Land on

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