“Tunng has always tried to blend together sounds that really shouldn’t fit,” says vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mike Lindsay. Masters of combining disparate styles as well as sounds, the adventurous British ensemble continues to pioneer a unique new genre: folktronica. On . . . And Then We Saw Land, playful banjo and acoustic guitar melt effortlessly into varied synth textures and expressively storytelling vocals. The musical flavors that result are unexpected, yet mesmerizing and expertly constructed throughout.
For Mike, ATWSL signals a departure from previous records. “The last two albums had a lot of glitch, and samples with sub bass from the Nord Modular,” he says. “For this new record, we tried to use synths as synths and electronic drums as electronic drums. The key is for every instrument to have its place and not sound contrived. It works best when it’s a very subtle blend of electronic and acoustic vibes.”
Laying down a tight groove between instruments
We generally record everything separately; we don’t have a large live room, so it has to be done that way. There’s definitely some loose playing, but I like that. Then it gets a polish on the computer afterwards. Looping parts and cleaning up timing gives it a tighter sound, but keeps it sounding alive.
Capturing a rich acoustic piano sound
Always use a real piano if you can. No matter how good a multisampled virtual piano may be, it won’t have your own flavor, warts and all. I use a Røde NT4 stereo mic and get it centered just above the head of the player. It captures everything.
Chaotic, atonal distortion in “Hustle”
It’s a Korg Mono/Poly with lots of noise dialed in and a bit of portamento.
Warbly, affected piano in “Weekend Away”
I put the acoustic piano through an old ’70s spring reverb. I love that thing.
Arpeggiated texture on “Don’t Look Down or Back”
That was the Korg Mono/Poly again. I fell in love with that synth and I love the arpeggiator. It’s not in perfect time with the tune but it adds an otherworldliness.