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Tuna Laguna - It's A Fudge CD (album) cover

IT'S A FUDGE

Tuna Laguna

 

Post Rock/Math rock

3.10 | 9 ratings

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VanVanVan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars First things first: this isn't your typical post- or math rock. In fact, it's probably best described as somewhere in between those two styles: eccentric rhythms and quirky melodies in the vein of the latter are gradually developed and elaborated upon in the style of the former. The result is a release that comes off sounding surprisingly fresh, and while it doesn't quite make it through its entire duration without problems, there is some very good music to be found here.

"Judy Loop" begins with some noisy sounds before launching into a perky, eclectic instrumental that sounds like a cross between Anglagard and classic surf rock. The track sticks with this motif for about two minutes before moving into a slightly more atmospheric mode that sounds like someone took the eclectic sounds of latter day Talk Talk and had Kraftwerk rearrange them. If that sounds compelling, it is: "Judy Loop" combines elements of electronica, old-school progressive rock and plenty of strange textures to create a winsome little number that can't help coming off as anything but charming. It's this charm that allows the song to succeed so well over its 7 minute run-time despite making use of the same couple of melodic patterns over and over. Tuna Laguna seems to have figured out something that many groups struggle with: you can still make good music (and furthermore good progressive rock) even if you're not switching and adding themes every other second.

Another reviewer mentioned that "Lady Mongolia" had similarities to Camel; I can certainly hear that, however, for me the strongest influence that comes through is actually early Zappa. I'm not sure why, exactly, but something about the rhythms used just sounds to me to be highly reminiscent of certain parts of "We're Only In It For The Money." However, the lack of lyrics and dreamier sound leaves "Lady Mongolia" sounding, more than anything else, original. It's also very relaxing; despite having a much more technical sound than Pink Floyd they possess a similar ability to transport the listener to another place (which in this case could very well be the beach on the album's cover). The track concludes with the same sort of noisy sounds that began "Judy Loop" and help facilitate the transition to the next track.

"One Who Brings Joy" is a bit more languid than either of the first two tracks, and as a result the vibe it gives off is just as carefree and relaxing if not more so. With great rhythmic interplay between guitar and keyboard and some jazzy percussion, "One Who Brings Joy" feels far less tightly wound than the tracks preceding it, but it's certainly not all atmosphere. There are some very solid melodies that develop over the course of the track, and as with "Judy Loop" and "Lady Mongolia" the band shows an incredible amount of sophistication in developing them through repetition rather than merely throwing thousands of different notes at the listener. The track again closes out with some noisy sound effects, and it's at this point that the continuity in endings between the tracks really begins to give the album a nice sense of wholeness.

"Drink What I Drink (I Drank Judy's Drink)" returns to the perky, idiosyncratically rhythmic style of the first two tracks. With some almost funky melodic lines and a very jazzy feel, "Drink What I Drink" is also one of the more varied tracks, delving into a variety of themes and sounds. Unfortunately, the result is that the track doesn't come off as strongly as any of the first three tracks, having lost some of the sophistication in development in favor of a sound that occasionally comes off as more disjointed. "Drink What I Drink" is still a fine track, however, and one that certainly doesn't detract from the album as a whole.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for "Rhömcke Raff." While nothing about it is actively bad, it sounds far too similar to the tracks that precede it and as a result comes off as startlingly unmemorable compared to the fresh brilliance of the first few tracks. It also doesn't really seem to go anywhere, with the repetition that was used so well in the first couple tracks coming off as dull and uninspired here. While there is an interesting distorted section towards the end, "Rhömcke Raff" overall just doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from the somewhat similar-sounding tracks it shares album space with, and as such it falls unfortunately flat as a closing track. Additionally, despite its 11 minute runtime the track proper only lasts about six; the rest of the time is filled with silence with only a brief, noisy, freak-out session at the very end. In my opinion, that's a rather unsatisfying ending for a release that began so compellingly.

Ultimately, then, It's A Fudge ends up being a mixed bag. I really do enjoy the first three tracks quite a lot, but the album peters off as it goes on, with "Drink What I Drink" being a little weak and "Rhömcke Raff" being more or less forgettable. I look forward to hearing Tuna Laguna's other work because they obviously have the capacity to put out some very good music, but that capacity does not seem to me to be fully realized on this short debut release.

3/5

VanVanVan | 3/5 |

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