Thursday, 25 February 2010

Album review: Tunng - ...And Then We Saw Land

An upbeat start to Tunng’s fourth and latest full-length collection ...And Then We Saw Land signifies their musical charm hasn’t been lost in the three year wait since Good Arrows in 2007. This time has seen former lead vocalist and co-founding member Sam Genders release an album and tour with side project The Accidental, before stepping aside from Tunng altogether. The remaining quintet then merged with Malian blues band Tinariwen for BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction show and a subsequent tour, after which they could be forgiven for shifting from folktronic focus.

Indeed, some post-Tinariwen collaboration expectation was for a change of style, but the record itself still balances acoustic charm with progressive glitches and gadgetry, and you get the feeling that it’s largely business as usual in that sense. However, thoughts of a new Tuareg-inspired direction are perhaps unfounded given that Tunng have always been their own band; it is their tendency to colour outside the lines of conformity that saw them as subjects of a genre created around them, after all. Electric-acoustic layering on ‘By Dusk They Were in the City’ and the chirpy ‘Santiago’ serve as reminders of the ‘folktronica’ trend, and ‘Don’t Look Down or Back’ displays the same knack for a shift from shimmering folk balladry to a Wilco-esque chorus often heard on previous albums.

So as successful as the Tunng with Tinariwen experiment proved, there’s no harm in going back to what you know, especially when what they know is how to excel in crafting delicate melodies around earnestly relayed tales.

Tunng release ...And Then We Saw Land on 1st March on the Full Time Hobby record label.

Words: Ian Pennington

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