Dusted Reviews

Tussle - Kling Klang

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Tussle

Album: Kling Klang

Label: Troubleman Unlimited

Review date: Dec. 9, 2004

This is what happens when drum circles meet machines. Tussle’s first full-length is a highly organized cacophony of percussion, persistently anchored by dub bass lines. The looseness of the pervasive ‘New Weird America’ aesthetic has been systematically processed and deployed across a bed of improvisation that appears as algorithm. Each square peg magically fits into each circular hole.

Kling Klang follows in the wake of four singles, extensive touring and a barrage of media proclamations over the past couple years claiming the band as the “best new” something. A host of catch phrases have been thrown around in reference to the San Francisco band, slowly overtaking the collective critical conscious: junkyard disco, punk-funk jams, psychedelic dub. And these are all apt. But Tussle’s four instrumentalists – bass, electronics, traditional drums, auxiliary percussion – suffer and prosper from the uncanny ability to distill diverse musical elements (and objects) into one singular body. The washed-out reverb ambience of King Tubby emanates from the electronic squalls and drones. The bass lines are so consistent as to eventually seem preternatural. The ongoing rhythmic duel between drums and found objects leaves percussive detritus in all the right places, at all the right times. Vigor somehow cedes to ambivalence, leaving a dance party best for looking and listening; fittingly, Tussle often performs with projections.

Everything falling into place excludes the possibility of everything, or anything, falling apart – this quality allows Kling Klang to be both entrancing and pointedly ambient. These two characteristics meet perfectly on the last song, “Tight Jeans,” when a pounding syncopated bass line is graced by a shimmering series of synth chords that bring the record to an understated climax. But at other times, Tussle is stifled by the band’s own precision. At its most homogenous, the process of creation on Kling Klang is obfuscated, and all that’s left is a final product. The pleasure of listening to a band like Tussle – one that includes elements of improvisation, emphasizing long-form rhythms over formulaic composition – is the revelation of hearing and sensing shambolic arrangements suddenly cohere. Without that threat of a sound collapsing, falling apart, or even surprising anyone, what is at stake?

Kling Klang is all coherence, and by the time the record starts spinning the band is already done playing. What’s left is a pristine package with some revelatory moments and a plethora of perfectly locked grooves.

By Alexander Provan

Other Reviews of Tussle

Don't Stop

Telescope Mind

Cream Cuts

Read More

View all articles by Alexander Provan

Find out more about Troubleman Unlimited

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.