Published Aug 21, 2018Perhaps the most holistic example of the folktronica genre, London-based collective Tunng have been releasing albums of delicate acoustic guitar and immaculate electronics since the early 2000s. Returning with Songs You Make At Night (notable for the return of original member and core songwriter Sam Genders after a one-album hiatus), the group confidently continue their record of soft-spoken folk excellence and studied programming.
Tunng are at once traditional and forward-thinking. Their songwriting and delicately finger-picked acoustic guitar foundations resonate strongly with England's folk history, but the way they enfold those sounds in meticulously crafted electronics and perfectly placed samples requires an ear brought up on late-era Radiohead and Blur — a track or two from Damon Albarn's recent Everyday Robots would fit seamlessly in a Tunng playlist for instance.
The group are as nimble as ever in balancing these two poles, however, and so we get gorgeous folk songs with electronic embellishment ("Crow," "Battlefront" and the especially pleasant "Evaporate"), as well as more fully electronic pieces that nonetheless remain grounded by the straightforward and unpretentious vocal work of Genders and Becky Jacobs.
Short on hooks and obviously memorable moments, Songs You Make At Night is an album that excels in texture and dynamics instead, each thoughtfully composed song an intricate clockwork of whirring percussion and interlocking guitar and synth work. Phil Winter's samples shouldn't be overlooked in this regard either, giving the album a tactile, earthy vibe that contributes greatly to its distinctly British charm.
Indeed, Tunng have carved out a unique sound for themselves at this point, and anyone who's thus far managed to overlook their take on pastoral folk music for the 21st century should give them a look. Put this one on the next time you're strolling through the sunny fields of rural England — or when you want to imagine you are. (Full Time Hobby)