Tu Fawning explore a twisted electronic folk that initially feels very polished and contemporary in its sound, but very soon you realise that the feral heart that beats within is smashing at the walls to get out. Think a steampunk Arcade Fire, but send them into the jungle for a month and see what you get when they’re found. There’s a silvered wildness to their music that puts them in the musical Venn diagram with Tune-Yards. But with Tu Fawning the vocals are all ether and balletic grace, the lyrical meaning in retreat. The beats are marching music of sorts, or maybe a hangman’s drum, but each impacts with ferocious intent.
Their music is constructed of tribal drum patterns, chanting, and sampled orchestral grandeur. When the reverb is lashing off them like sweat, Tu Fawning exist in a haunted, hunted atmosphere. And whereas Dirty Projectors, who Tu Fawning also outwardly resemble, recall the trace of the vocal harmony of South Africa, Tu Fawning instead have the dirt of eastern Europe on their boots; their harmony has a guttural epic quality to it. These bloody daubings are sepia toned (if sepia was a musical tone, then this is it).
Stand out tracks here are Anchor, A Pose For No-One, and the epic Build a Great Cliff, which recalls the great scores for both Hollywood and Cinecitta westerns. Legato fireballs criss-cross their sequencer screens, while dense layers of found noise obscure all lyrical intention. What’s more interesting about TF is that they won’t fit easily into rock’s presentational format. The beats are broken and raffish, the musical grandeur also whiffs faintly of poverty and hard times. The polish is transparent on tracks like Skin and Bone revealing a messiness in the construction that is entirely positive. As Dickens found, it’s in the sticky underworld that the melodrama comes to life.
This album captures the unsettling layered reality that many of us presently float within. We understand ourselves through historical precedents, but we’re like replicants who can’t quite grasp how it all connects up. TF is the perfect soundtrack of fin de siècle ennui to watch rolling news to.