The perfect example of Folktronica
Tunng have quietly become one of my favourite folktronica bands over the past few years. Their albums fall somewhere on the strict acoustic folk/rock all the way across to their latest album which is possibly the most electronica soaked album of theirs to date. I have to say that going on this latest album I hope Tunng stay nocturnal as “Songs You Make At Night” is an absolute triumph.
From the opening bars of “Dream In” you are treated to a rich musical tapestry of soft keyboards, layered male and female vocals, sumptuous guitar melodies and clever complex beats that borrow from glitchy electronica but keep that folksy feel too. The whole album is an ode to that dusk/midnight hour/early morning glow and the production is set up to never feel visceral but to cuddle you into a swirl of sounds and feelings in a dream-like experience. “Abop” is as close as Tunng come to something more synth-pop with whistles, rubbery basslines and floaty call and response vocals rolling over a mildly tribal trip-hop beat. It all comes together in the final third with lush zithers and more punchy guitars taking shape before luring you into the slumber of “Sleepwalking”. This track has some utterly gorgeous harmonics that sound like a mixture of bells and guitar that are some of the fuzziest sounds I’ve heard committed to record ever. Throughout the album, there is a creepy dream speech that occurs where different peoples voices are chopped together and tape warped to create little bridge snippets. They sometimes sound profound but here they show off Tunngs’ humour with it being utter comedy jibberish.
“Crow” takes things back towards the more acoustic folk roots with a lovely midtempo timeless number complete with bird sounds and a swaying chorus to raise a glass too before we get funky and cooky with “Dark Heart” which reminds me of their “Turbines” album when they played with elements of psychedelia and is as close to a radio single the band has – making it a great entry point to new listeners. Whilst playing with the darker side of their music, which is always what I’m drawn to the double punch of “Battlefront” and in particular the Kate Bush “Army Dreamers” like “Flatland” are sublime with their catchy melodies and bubbling tension. “Nobody’s Here” continues that darker tone which slowly turns from a pagan folk-like opening into a space-dance outro as it completely transforms before your ears whilst staying utterly plausible throughout. The breadth that Tunng manage with this album is stunning.
It’s not until we get to “Evaporate” that we get a truly fully folk track and its a wonderful anti-jig that goes hand in hand with the dreamlike guitar and electric piano glitching of “Like Water”. Where the former track spends its riffs rising up through the chords and notes, the latter is spent taking you back down again or echoing between them in a dreamy drone. “Like Water” feels like it’s being pulled thinly but also like it’s unfurling barely in control too as vocals rush and then seep into echo as the instruments splash in and out. It all fades to a gentle frequency tone for “Dream Out” as various instruments spin in real time and in reverse around you as if you’re exiting the dreamworld, rounding off this fantastic album.
“Songs We Make At Night” is an absolute tour de force and by far my favourite album from Tunng. If anyone has an interest in folk, electronica or how the two could even remotely fuse together – you need this album in your life. Headphones on. Close your eyes. Away you go.