Tunng’s ‘Turbines’ Worth More than a Few Spins

Tunng’s 2007 LP Good Arrows rarely left my turntable that following winter. Their melancholic brand of electro-folk suited the rain-soaked streets and grey skies of the sombre months of January and February.  A quick listen to Good Arrows instantly takes me back those bleak months even on the hottest July day. The unique sound of Tunng’s deeply layered songs combined with what appears to be an infinite percussion section, which in turn often sounds like the rain itself, brings back memories of the cold in an instant. In short, Tunng remind me of winter.

June’s release of the UK band’s fifth full-length record (yes, it’s available on gatefold vinyl), Turbines works equally as well on hot summer evenings – demonstrating how deeply crafted tunes work well in all weathers. Turbines wiles away hot summer days with Tunng’s unique combination of acoustic-based folk played electronically.

Although the nine-song release has a mellower feel than their earlier records, Tunng still manage to create moments of chaos within tranquility. The contrasting voices of Mike Lindsay and Becky Jacobs, sung largely in unison, create depth to the darker and lighter sides of their songs.

The beauty of Tunng is that you’re never quite sure where a song is going. From the upbeat nature of “Trip Trap”, one could be tricked into thinking that the track is following songwriting convention. With a sing-along chorus, “She is sweet / She is sour / A poisonous flower,” the song triumphs against sing-along boredom with an array of mixes and loops which takes away the seemingly polite tune and gives it a darker, more profound edge.

Tunng’s knack for sounding like an acoustic folk band played electronically, but with more levels than it’s possible to analyze, comes beautifully into play with “Villages”. Interpretations of song lyrics are best left to individuals’ minds and with the lyrics, “And there were people / And there were choices / Our [Are?] minds were lost on the floor,” there’s a lot of scope to interpret meaning.

Tunng round the record off in true form with “Heavy Rock Warning”. Far from heavy rock, the ambient tune sees Lindsay and Jacobs’ hauntingly beautiful voices sing against a backdrop of the many layers of Tunng’s signature sound. “Sail me away / We’ll lose touch for a day / And it’s gone.” The lyrics evoke ideas of boat ownership and sailing away on a hot July evening. “Drifting away / When you’re lost anyway / But it’s gone.”

Although Turbines is probably Tunng ‘s most conventional release, it is a record far from convention.