Mother's Daughter and Other Songs
The Pioneers

[Static Caravan, www.staticcaravan.org]

Whether we're forced to adopt the "folktronica" label - denoting bands that choose to use acoustic instruments along with their laptops - is not important. After all, trends come and go and most anything you tend to listen to nowadays seems to be cyclical anyhow. With that in mind, are the sounds being served up by British outfit Tunng [pronounced same way the piece of flesh that hangs from the roof of your mouth] folktronica or is there something more boiling underneath? Preceded by a few 7" singles, their debut full length "Mother's Daughter and Other Songs" sounds like a fair assessment of the British folk scene, past and present. So what if they mix in bits and pieces of processed vocals and laptop noise? This doesn't detract nor does it add all that much to the final mix. Producer / guitarist Mike Lindsay and guitarist and singer Sam Genders created the world of Tunng from scratch. They knew that addition of tightly controlled glitches and oddly shaped samples would add a quality to the album that would make it ultimately stand out from the rest of the crowd. Other than the fact that Gender's voice tends to resemble an even sadder Robert Wyatt [which in my books is actually a good quality], the music isn't necessarily sad. Sure, it has a bit of a morose quality but for the most part, the sounds are acoustic that with the help of various electronics actually uplift the soul. I don't particularly understand how you can fall into depression listening to this stuff, but the again, I'm not good at reading people's minds. Just maybe Tunng's music could find a far greater audience if they made their songs into pure dance-hall, beat-crazy items? Perhaps not. When you hear something like "Surprise Me" - as Genders delicately murmurs some lovely texts, while the band provides some awkwardly skewed electronics, this is as close as the band will come to having a dance hit. My favourite numbers are still the softer, more toned down pieces. "Tale From Black" takes Gender's softening vocal qualities and shapes them into a morose tale of the middle ages [my guess]. By adding a few quality samples, the epic tune [by radio's standards] retains a warm quality, while enticing the listener to return to feed more often.
"The Pioneers" EP is a brief single format study, which features a stunning new track from their just released second full length, "Comments of the Inner Chorus". The title track is another move towards fully embracing the folk movement, while slipping in gentle intrusions of electronics throughout to give it a more enticing quality. The cream on the EP is the video for "Fair Doreen". Directed by Megan Majewski, this computerized, animated clip reminds me of some of the spooky work The Residents did in the mid 80's. Featuring two characters that chase one another through a dim-lit house, it looks like the perfect video accompaniment to a song that with its stark quality already drew unsettling pictures in my mind. Picture perfect audio from a band whose big day has yet to come.
- Tom Sekowski

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>> TUNNG - Mother's Daughter and Other Songs / The Pioneers
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