Friday, 29 February 2008

TUNER: Dr Nurse

The British instrumental post-beat group Tuner might best be described as a denuded Shadows, forever playing at the increasingly submerged end of Cromer Pier in the fourth week of November; echoes of tremelo arms swift and vast enough to embrace the KGB listening posts disguised as obscure petrol stations that you see all the way down the Norfolk and Suffolk coast, a wisp of vapour which connects Hank Marvin to LaBradford, a tinge of recalled greenery which makes them the Richard Hawley to Battles' Chris Isaak; their certainty isn't as gloriously streamlined as that of Battles, but indecision and shaky remembrances are their dinner and we should be proud to be privy to its preparation and consumption. The crisp(y) succinctness of their eternal wanderings may indicate a Shadows' Surfer Rosa - track titles like "Stripe It White" and especially "Baby Pixies" confirm that gluey notion - but their intent is precise if their silvery shrug regretful.

After far too long, there is a Tuner album, 9 Loaves 5 Fishes, or two mini-albums recorded separately and differently. I had the privilege to listen to the 9 Loaves material some considerable while ago and the variety of fisted kisses that this end of music promises is vast indeed, especially when Terry Edwards gets involved with his anti-dependable deep-end horns, as per the brisk quavers of opener "Ketchup" or the exonerated, enclosed howls of the never more aptly titled "Pierenders."

Tuner's tunes are themes for real echo beaches decorated with profoundly moving wallpaper; the lonesome electrotuba of "Barry Rock" patrolling the promenade like Death In Venice starring Graham Stark (such an artefact does exist; it was made in 1969 and is called A Day At The Beach, if you can find it), the piously fervent Vick's Sinex intimacy of "Tub Down." At the moment "Dr Nurse" is my favourite; calmly purposeful rhythms set up Mike Oldfield crucified (Jesus is playing Sunday football on the album cover) by the shadows of Morton Subotnick and the golden apples of Shadow Morton, the wavering vibrato which could come either from the guitar or the defiantly deceptive keyboards or even the musical saw which surfaces there if not here, suddenly leaping into pound shop pounding rock with clear ambitions towards "Atlas" (even though it precedes the latter), before elegantly vanishing into its own, sandbitten valley of Pollock's Toy Theatre content. The 5 Fishes are more recent, more produced and more securely gated, but in general there's not a lot, i.e. nothing, like this happening elsewhere in mid-noughties British music and if you liked Frisell's Power Tools and John Stevens' Away but didn't forget your Wee Willie Harris, you should swim towards Tuner without due or undue delay.