Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tunng / Mother's Daughter...and Other Songs / Rating: 6.5

"Folktronica" is an unfortunate and probably outdated verbiage, but it's still apt for Tunng's debut album, Mother's Daughter...and Other Songs."

I recently introduced the man in my life to a childhood favorite sandwich, something my parents only made on special occasions and which lacked a cute pet name. It was called by exactly what it was/is: bacon and peanut butter on toast. It sounds like a terrible food faux pas, something only a stoner roommate, Elvis, or pregnant woman might crave but for anyone who loves bacon and peanut butter, I assure this will become your new favorite snack once you try it. I know this doesn’t exactly scream winning combo but the world has met stranger pairs. Michael Jackson and any girlfriend comes to mind first with country flavored hip-hop as a close second.

Don’t even get me started on rap-metal.

The acoustic 5 string guitar was born during the Middle Ages and has been carried into the modern world in the form of something we now call folk. It doesn’t seem like the most obvious genre for electronic music to static cling to yet over the past several years we have had it reintroduced to us in many a mutated form. The Books, Boards of Canada, and my new favorite Takagi Masakatsu are all fine examples of this opposites attract collaboration of sound but I first associate “folktronica” (I HATE THESE BUZZ WORDS!) with artists like Beta Band or Beck. (I am certain there are more artists to name drop here but at 2AM this is all my brain is giving me and my enthusiasm for music has been drained thanks to a not so spectacular Arab Strap live performance I attended earlier this evening. )


Tunng don’t sound exactly like any of the guitar glitch listed above but they do belong in a class along side those talents. The problem is nobody has heard of Tunng. It doesn’t help that Pitchfork has further cursed the band with an unimpressive 6.5 rating but to stick with this pairing theme if I had to name one newish artist I feel an equal admiration towards and who would also sound quite lovely on a bill with Tunng it would have to be Efterklang and both of these bands are worthy of a high 7.

All I ask is if you check out Mother's Daughter which according to my domestic copy is ACTUALLY called This is ... Tunng - Mother's Daughter, skip track 1) “Mother’s Daughter” and dive straight in with track 2) "People Folk" which for you Beta Band followers should make you wonder if Tunng is in fact a solo project of one of the x-members of. (and no they are not)

By track 4) "Beautiful and Light" you too will wonder why Tunng isn’t at the very least familiar by name to every indietronic fan on both sides of the Atlantic.

I’ve been racking brain all day as to why this is but I can’t be certain why Tunng doesn’t have a larger aura of hype around them. It would be easy to blame the crowded present day music new release schedule oversaturated with crap records who happen to have more money or better press agents behind them… but I fear there might be something(s) bigger at work here. I wondered if the import version of this record (from last year?) garnered all the press and excitement but looking at the lack of it on line, this is simply not the case. I further wondered if fans of this renaissance electronic music would miss this kind of release since their U.S. label Ace Fu is better known for its rock releases but it is impossible to say if all labels carry that much make it or brake it power. The final stone in UK duo Tunng’s pocket to help sink their popularity is a lack of tour dates in America during an era where touring is a MUST to expose an artist to an over seas market AKA us American types. Sorry but a SXSW appearance doesn’t = instant exposure to the US indie music buying public and apparently the press people who were in Texas didn’t have oodles to say about Tunng either.

Whatever the reason for Tunng’s lack of following, it’s a real shame. I know the world has lot’s of good bands and perhaps we should only be applauding the great ones but This is Tunng is one of maybe 15 records from this year I have played more than 10 times and not because I am just reviewing it but because it makes my ears happy. It pains me to say something so cute and basic but if I can confess my love for a snack which includes a pork product and a spread more popularly associated with jelly or chocolate then I think I can say without shame when a record does nothing more than also satisfy my senses.