Winnipeg's Tunic Purge Dark Emotions on Career-Spanning 'Exhaling'

BY Chris BrysonPublished Apr 7, 2021

Tunic's music is all about complex and chaotic catharsis. Since releasing their debut 7-inch in 2016, and when they still could, the Winnipeg trio toured the world, brandishing their auditory blast furnace for anyone willing to take the heat. With their new album, Exhaling, the band has compiled their previously sold-out discography with three new songs, putting together one of the year's most ferocious collections of noisy and raucous art punk.

While most of the 23 tracks on this album run through frantic patterns of pummeling drums, burly bass and ragged and razor-edged guitar, Tunic showcase their strengths with how they skew their song structures by twisting these elements in and out of volatile shapes, like crushing doom on "Radius," odd rhythms on "Invalid" and "Dry Heave" and squealing, whirling guitar on "Boss," "Shaking Hands" and the title track. "Nothing Nothing" also features guitar that swarms like savage bees, while the otherworldly shrieking at the end of "Frontal Lobe" recalls the Body's Chip King's lacerated howl.

Any melody is jagged or angsty, like on "Mumbled," "Empty Handed" and "Fade Out." The band's guitarist and vocalist David Schellenberg sometimes uses his instrument to create dissonant and angular sounds that give tracks like "Nylon," "Envious" and "Eye Contact" an atonal no wave edge. The album's songs are propelled by the band's demolishing rhythm section, with Rory Ellis' rugged bass and drummer Dan Unger, a relentless force behind the kit, providing the unstable ground on which Tunic blast full steam ahead.

For newcomers to the band's music (or anyone approaching it without a lyrics sheet), it might take several listens to figure out what Schellenberg is so angry about. But Tunic is more about visceral rhythm, noise and emotion, with Schellenberg as the raging head to the band's gnarled beast. This isn't to say there's no purpose behind all the venom spitting. Throughout the album (and the band's career), Schellenberg has used Tunic as a coping mechanism to explore and expel dark and toxic themes and emotions, and you can hear it in every incisive bark. "Disappointment" is about feeling like being just that, where "Dry Heave" is flush with anxiety, and "Envious" digs into self-worth. And while there's a cryptic nature to some of the lyrics, there's also a passionate depth behind their intent. 

This collection of the band's catalog feels like a brutal staging ground for whatever comes next. For listeners who prefer extremes for emotional release, Exhaling is an album that will give you room to breathe.

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