The folktronica collective's third offering. In turns surreal and mellow.
Gemma Padley 2007-08-16
There is something comforting yet mysteriously unsettling about Tunng. The so-called folktronica sextet have an unnerving knack of leading listeners across a make believe Escher-esque landscape, at the same time nonsensical yet strangely familiar. For their first outing as a fully formed ‘band’, album number three, Good Arrows, sees the collective continue along the sparse acoustic guitar/velvety vocal route but with a marked leaning to electronica.
The product of a merger in 2003 between Mike Lindsay’s techtronics and singer songwriter Sam Genders’ musical endeavours, four years on, Tunng have perfected the craft of mixing acoustic folk with electronic sound-scapes. Like a series of fragmented snapshot memories, Good Arrows proves it is possible to create beautiful music by merging two, on the surface of things, incongruous genres.
The chiming “Take” marks the beginning of an album that runs a million miles from clockwork. A track instantly ear-pricking, the ‘all eyes ablaze, he saw her in the old light’ motif punctuated by timeless grandfather clock strikes, is magical and engulfing. “Soup” is all Thom Yorke and Four Tet experimentalism before unexpected rock guitar bursts onto the scene – a strange direction for a folk troupe but one that works, proof (if ever were needed) that Tunng delight in catching the listener off guard.
Single “Bricks” exudes pop catchiness, but it is the marching “Bullets” that is the true stand out track. With a chorus capable of causing the kind of stomach somersaults brought on by spotting the person you love in the distance, it is one of those wonderful songs that manages to sound happy and sad at the same time. “Secrets” with its pinched and pulled time signatures and electronically treated mandolin/dulcimer has a dreamy waywardness, while “String” uses a guitar motif not dissimilar to Sting’s “Shape Of My Heart”.
Advocates of fringe musical experimentation, Tunng challenge the concept of what a band should ‘be’ and sound like. Often lyrically incomprehensible, their electronic- acoustic folk is always beguiling – Salvador Dali set to music if such a thing were possible. We’re not expected to understand, only to accept that music doesn’t always have to have an obvious meaning – it’s ok to enjoy the nonsensical.