Songs You Make At Night (Full Time Hobby)
Tunng reuniting in their original lineup may not excite the headline writers, even if those of us who have enjoyed their folktronica are rather pleased. (Rather pleased being quite an appropriate term for a modestly proposed English group.)
It’s not exactly the Eagles reforming even though technically hell had not yet frozen over: Tunng all seem to like each other still, and none of them are arseholes. Nor is it even Wire coming back together after a couple of decades: it’s only five years since the last album, 15 since the first.
But after 11 year doing other things, Sam Genders rejoining Tunng – Mike Lindsay, Ashley Bates, Phil Winter, Becky Jacobs and Martin Smith – is some very good news, and the result is quite satisfying. (It’s hard, you know, to give up the modest English manner one you get started.)
Songs You Make At Night is pretty much what you might have expected 11 years ago. There are murmurings, gently conversational, both soothing and evocative, and also at times almost off-hand vocals from Genders, sounding ever more like Robert Wyatt, and Jacobs, whose voice has evolved into something quite mood-changing and subtly flexible.
There are acoustic sounds, burbling studio creations, found/sampled voices and processed sound of indeterminate origin, which in combination genuinely do feel like the line between traditional folk and downtempo electronica is an arbitrary one that can’t really be seen from their studio.
Rhythms nudge rather than push (with the driving through wet city streets pulse of Dark Heart the one propulsive urge and ABOP the one most likely to be bubbling away in your memory), melodies beguile rather than assert, lyrics convey the ambiguity of modern communication and the traces of a not quite lost past, and echoes of China Crisis and Books, Pentangle and Kate Bush, and Eno, can be heard everywhere.
And yes, it does sound like both something made at night and meant to be listened to at night. If you were to play this loudly it would probably still be quiet.
Ok, there isn’t anything here to blow away a newcomer; but then Tunng never did work to that end. It just feels like the kind of wandering record whose purpose only is revealed in repose rather than action. A pleasant record, yes, but in its wider sense: pleasing, gently rewarding, satisfying. Modesty has its place.