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Tunng - Turbines (Review)

Tunng, Turbines

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

TUNNG’S fifth studio album Turbines is nothing if not ambitious.

Set in a fictional village, this examines the lives of its would-be inhabitants and their various hardships and neuroses. Mike Lindsay has described it as “our sci-fi folk rock album”, pointing to the track The Village as the record which best sums up the thinking behind it.

“It was as if we created our own imagined village where we could debate, collaborate, explore possibilities and choose the right way forward,” he explains. “This way we were forced to re-examine our relationships with Tunng, with the music and with each other – a completely different process from how we’ve recorded in the past. By the end of the sessions we knew every lane and alley of that village, every house and all the people in them.”

If that sounds possibly arty and pretentious, then perhaps it is. But the music avoids that criticism for the most part. And it’s a consistently intriguing journey.

The instrumentals are governed by the characters and their predicaments. Hence, the more confused or dark the story, the less melodic and more fractured some of the percussion becomes.

There’s a somewhat desolate feel to the album closer, Heavy Rock Warning, which talks of separation and sailing away, while possessing a haunted vocal sound and sparse instrumentation.

Such a moment comes in contrast to the more melodic Bloodlines, which recalls the repercussions of a first kiss (“on the hand and the cheek”) – both the giddy excitement and the darker consequences that follow (the girl in question unravels).

Trip Trap, meanwhile, has an ethereal, almost fairytale quality as it recalls a character who is initially found “floating in the breeze”. But the woozy electronics and softened beats only enhance that feeling of something other-worldly and possibly dark. The mix of boy-girl vocals works really well too.

Just occasionally, some tracks struggle to come alive and, arguably, get a little too caught up in the story-telling (or concept), with By This offering one such example.

But whenever Tunng pick up the pace, the album really takes off. Hence, further highlights can be found in The Village, which follows a somewhat rebellious (or questioning) gang, or the outsiders’ tale that is So Far From Here, which is awash with tick-tock beats and a folk-rock chorus that really gets into your head in a good way.

Embers, meanwhile, has a futuristic electronic sound that gives credence to Lindsay’s claim that this is a folk rock album with sci-fi elements.

Put together, it may not always be essential but it’s never less than good or attention-grabbing.

Download picks: Bloodlines, Trip Trap, The Village, So Far From Here

Track listing:

  1. Once
  2. Trip Trap
  3. By This
  4. The Village
  5. Bloodlines
  6. Follow Follow
  7. So Far from Here
  8. Embers
  9. Heavy Rock Warning