I couldn’t tell you which persona is Jekyll and which one’s Hyde, but Andy Cabic has a split personality. As a member of Vetiver with nu-hippie Devendra Banhart, Cabic contributes to a pastoral folk feel that makes one want to roast marshmallows and smoke weed. As a member of San Francisco’s Tussle, Cabic plays a disco-funk bass that makes one want to shake one’s ass on the dancefloor and, well, smoke weed. To add to the experience, Tussle plays live shows with crazy acid-flashback video projections.
Like fellow Nothern Californians Out Hud / !!!, Tussle plays experimental dance music. Whereas the former are more influenced by American disco music from the likes of Chic, Tussle are more interested in the Kraut rock sounds of Neu!, Can or Kraftwerk. My question is, is Tussle’s music simple in its complexity, or complex in its simplicity? An M.C. could easily break down the parts of each song in shouting, “Bass!” and then “Percussion!” moments later. These two sounds are the basis of every Tussle song. Bass is straightforward, Cabic lays down a solid foundation for all kinds of sonic experimentation around him. Slow, rhythmic and dance-y, his bass can often resemble John Taylor’s, especially in the song “Eye Contact.” The percussion is various drum kits and, what they call, “found and constructed objects.” Every once in a while there’s some electronic sounds or keyboards, but the former two make up the bulk of the songs.
The end result is an interesting palate of dance music for the senses. What can get tiresome is that Tussle probably benefits more from the 12′ single or EP format than the full album treatment. “Eye Contact” and the “Don’t Stop” EP were released previously and showcase the band in their best light, extended pieces that let the mind wander and create images to match the aural landscape. Kling Klang, however, as a much longer collection of music, can tend to get a bit tedious. Of course, I’ve known people who can’t handle music with lyrics as they find it a bit too “busy.” So this kind of album should be right up some people’s alley.
I can imagine Kling Klang becoming one of two things, either background music at hipster cocktail parties, or as a soundtrack to a futuristic caper movie. It’s both unobtrusive and complementary at the same time. Tussle could almost be a dance version of Suicide. Put “Frankie Teardrop” in a disco DJ’s hands, remove the vocals, and you might get close.
David Holmes- Oceans 11 Soundtrack
Out Hud- Let Us Never Speak of It Again