The success of this album is in its threading together of disparate elements into a...
Sid Smith 2008
It says something about the strength and impact of this second album from Tuner that it was included in Modern Drummer magazine’s All Time Top 50 prog recordings, placing them up there with the usual, grander suspects. That’s strange, in a way, because although there are some fairly knotty time signatures and the kind of scorching playing one might associate with the genre, this is an album with a far greater range than the accolade implies.
German ‘touch guitarist’ Markus Reuter met King Crimson’s drummer Pat Mastelotto on a train during the latter’s European tour in 2000 and they got on like a proverbial house on fire. Whilst their 2005 debut Totem showcased a mutual interest in rhythmic risk-taking and glitch-orientated electronica, Pole delivers something altogether deeper and more personal.
Though their assured musicianship remains very much in evidence, it’s been integrated into a dream-like suite of surprisingly accessible songs, fronted by several guest vocalists. Peter Kingsbery (from the group Cock Robin) imbues the material with bags of swaggering character, especially on the title track, coming across like a bad-ass whiskey preacher.
Such testosterone is tempered by Sirenée (Reuter’s wife) who adds an appealingly exotic mystery with whispered vocals and inscrutable moanings. Not above letting her hair down, she stands up to the buzzing guitars and thunderous drumming on louder outings such as “Arson Dandy” and the powerful lunge of “Black Well Monotony”. Those looking for a fix of Crimson may well be disappointed; only the racing rifferama of “Dig”, with its icy speckles of acoustic guitar and Thrak-ish rumbling, fits that particular bill.
The success of this album is in its threading together of disparate elements into a convincing narrative that takes it well beyond safe prog rock territory, staking out its own language and position. The mix of acid-folk nuances, astringent experimentation and post-rock ephemera adds up to something that is both sensual and cerebral.