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A core duo of London dweller Mike Lindsay and Derbyshire lad Sam Genders, brought TUNNG to the world in an untidy but enjoyable debut THIS IS TUNNG: MOTHER’S DAUGHTER AND OTHER SONGS (2005) {*7}, a wilfully skewed collection where English folk meets electronic dabbling. The result was a little more style over substance but distracting enough. Earning the tag “folktronica”, the pair have since – albeit jokingly – described themselves as The APHEX TWIN meets SIMON & GARFUNKEL.
After creating their debut with the help of sundry friends and relatives, the pair recruited a five-member team to put flesh on the bones of their songs, only for Genders to decide to take a back seat on the performance front and leave Lindsay to lead the group live. Genders remained main songwriter however; with the exception of single cut of BLOC PARTY’s `The Pioneers’. The resulting album, COMMENTS OF THE INNER CHORUS (2006) {*7} felt marginally more of a group effort but no less scattergun in its approach – the band’s peccadillo for employing odd instruments (sea shells, anyone?) was an attempt to lift the band beyond any expected folk norms but their was still a pair of songwriters at the heart of it all in Genders and Lindsay.
For their third album the contrast between Genders’ limpid lyricism and Lindsay’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink production gave the band a fuller sound than ever before, vocalist Becky Jacobs’ bird-like tones making an even greater impression meant that GOOD ARROWS (2007) {*7} was a more coherent and compelling album than those it followed.
A collaboration and tour with desert-rock Malian Tuareg outfit Tinariwen added more colours and textures to a sound already overloaded with elements, something had to give – and it did. Jacobs moved further centre stage as Genders decided to step out of the band altogether – opting for The ACCIDENTAL – and their sound evolved from sweet and odd to just, well, sweet. Long-time band friend Ben Bickerton arrived to help bolster up the lyrical quotient in the absence of Genders and the band grew beyond the folktronica label with …AND THEN WE SAW LAND (2010) {*7} almost into what they had resisted at the start – a genuine, quality British psych-folk outfit in the original 60s mould.
2013’s TURBINES {*7} was another refined TUNNG set that drifted between dainty melodies and economical instrumentation. While not quite stepping into FREE DESIGN-meets-STEREOLAB boy-girl sing-a-long territory, the record was hardly folk in the purest sense, more quirky twee-pop, if tracks `The Village’, `Trip Trap’, `Bloodlines’ and `So Far From Here’, were anything to go by; incidentally, cosmic closing track `Heavy Rock Warning’ should’ve been titled “Heavy Stoned Warning”.
Fans hadn’t heard much from TUNNG for some time, though maybe compensation was gleaned from Lindsay’s collaboration with indie-folk angel, LAURA MARLING, for the summer 2018 eponymous “Lump” mini-set.
With Sam Genders’ returning fully to the fold, 2018’s intimate indie-folktronica comeback, SONGS YOU MAKE AT NIGHT {*8} was just what it said on the tin; or something for somnambulists stuck to their head-sets. A fantastically warm and whimsical set of songs, the bass-tastic Fender Rhodes played its part, whilst the organic harmonies and watery samples combined eerily for the excellent `Dream In’, `ABOP’, `Crow’, `Flatland’ and just about everything else, including the almost child-like `Evaporate’ and `Battlefront’.
© MC Strong GFD2/MR // rev-up MCS Nov2013-Sep2018

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