Review: Tunng... Live At The BBC
After years of being told by radio DJs, friends and, more recently, a very talkative gasman, to check them out, I have finally started listening to Tunng.
The British band’s four albums to date have been periphery successes, with their unique experimental folk sound turning alternative heads across Europe and prompting an array of BBC sessions in the UK. For any British band, the first live session at the beeb is a rite of passage, a ‘you’ve made it’ moment, with support from the likes of Peel, Harris and Lamacq. Looking back at a series of radio sessions since their early days in 2005, Tunng saw they had an album’s worth of material, which has now been compiled into the career-spanning LP, This Is Tunng… Live From The BBC.
Having been completely taken with the record all week, I can now confidently recommend this peerless gem of a band myself and suggest that you too, check them out.
“We realised we had quite a big bunch of sessions, and on listening back to them felt they sort of represented a nice little journey for us,” says band member Phil Winter. “There’s quite a range there, from the big full-on ones to the small intimate ones.”
Quite: this album takes in personal acoustic performances for Rob Da Bank to the standout collaboration with Malian desert blues heroes Tinariwen, Tamatant Tilay. “The Tinariwen session was amazing, because we didn't have a clue what we were going to play. It was so great just hearing it slowly come together,” says Winter.
Radio 2 legend Bob Harris may be on one track, too; “I seem to remember him ‘playing’ a telephone directory along to one of our songs”. This sense of improvisation, unpredictability and Yellow-Pages-tapping appears throughout the album, giving the tracks that magic vibrancy only live music can offer.
The core members of Tunng, Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay, began their musical partnership composing dodgy film scores, but their warm sound, eventually dubbed as ‘folktronica’, is now regarded as boundary pushing by music critics who have had difficulty pigeon-holing the sextet (pun not intended). “Tunng are almost from another time, another place,” says BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, for whom a number of the sessions were recorded. “When I think of Tunng I think of festivals, of sun, of smiles.”
This Is Tunng… Live From The BBC, released this week on Full Time Hobby, is to be followed early next year by a new Tunng album as well as the debut record from Mike Lindsay’s Icelandic spin off project, Cheek Mountain Thief. 2012 is set to be a bumper year for Tunng fans… and you can count me in!
This review first appeared on Stereoboard.com