Music Reviews
This is... Tunng (Mother's Daughter and Other Songs)

Tunng This is... Tunng (Mother's Daughter and Other Songs)

(Static Caravan) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

Well, it had been a day of auguries. Having spent a wild-eyed, pagan weekend watching giant effigies burn at a fire festival, we returned to urban banality to find Guadalupan devils seeing in the Spring by twirling fireworks, wielding banger-laced dragons and generally formicating outside our front door. In need of sustenance, we bought ourselves a couple of Kinder Eggs. On finding both contained the same - a slightly manic-looking policeman - and the desire to burn stuff not yet extinguished, they were immediately christened Edward. However, instead of building a brace of pint-sized wicker men, we went out and bought Tunng. And then spent the rest of the evening expecting Christopher Lee to come dancing up the stairs brandishing a sickle and a sprig of rosemary.

Tunng themselves include a wry nod to The Wicker Man in their list of thanks, and listening to Mother's Daughter, the first track, it is easy to see why. An unsettling chord sequence, backing vocals that sound more like incantations, and a tapping that could easily be a naked Britt Ekland sashaying up against your bedroom wall all amount to a really great folk track; it's not catchy but it does get under your skin. Call it 'folk' but they're more folk songs than folk music: wistful harmonies, repetition, and an onus on storytelling. This all amounts to a potent brew that leaves you intoxicated and eying up the harvest moon.

However, we don't often bedeck ourselves with flowers, ribbons and bells or pile down to Stonehenge for the solstice. Sometimes, but not often. What we're trying to say is that you don't have to have an affinity for all things Wicca to love this record. If you need convincing, one listening to Tale from Black should have you hooked - appropriately enough since we suspect it's an introspective on a melancholic junkie (see lyrics like "she knows the thrill of the chase in her veins/ And she knows that the sinking's a trick of the light"). This track is outstanding in every way, from the subtly menacing drumbeat, to the elegant breakdown with its regretful sample ("Who's sorry now?"), to the intensely poetic lyrics (our personal favourite: "She knows when they jail her they'll grind down the key"). Without eulogising any further, you're on the Internet already so check it out on http://www.tunng.co.uk.

Having said which, it takes a few listenings to realise that much of the subject matter is actually pretty sinister - you don't notice because these tales are adorned with such charming imagery. The aforementioned junky has a prostitute and a shotgun-toting bank robber for company: Beautiful and Light, featuring the latter, is the nicest song about a heist you're ever likely to hear. There are some quantum theorists in there too but they're keeping a low profile beside such nefarious neighbours.

It may seem incongruous to find themes such as these cropping up in an album we described as heavy on the green tights and hazel switches, but this is what makes Tunng so engaging. The ability to meld folklore and realism, to weave magic into the coarse or mundane, is enchanting, and even if the inevitable laptop features as an instrument, it never sounds obtrusive. Whether you're going to be dusting off your coracle and getting heathen, or just having a barbecue on a balmy evening, Mother's Daughter and Other Songs should be the soundtrack to seeing in the Summer. On that note, must dash, it's time to keep our appointment with the Wicker Man...