Title: Autumn Tram
Release Date: 2014 May 02
Genre: Chillout / Lounge
License: CC BY-ND
Label: Tunguska Electronic Music Society
It wouldn’t be correct to say that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve had a Tunguska release in my ears. In fact, since I first reviewed All Objects Lost there hasn’t been a week without a release from Tunguska in my review queue. Today let’s go for some smooth rolling on the Autumn Tram.
Smooth Rolling On The Autumn Tram
Despite having the word autumn in the title, this release did come out in the spring. In this case, we can overlook the odd timing / name since there’s a lot to this release that suggests it would be a good summertime listening.
The chillout element of this release makes for excellent background listening poolside on a hot summer’s day, lying around and catching some sun. On the other hand, the lounge elements make this well suite for a winding-down listen after a night of clubbing.
This is really the style of music that got me interested in the direction of electronic music, and lead me into IDM, Jungle and DnB styles of music. The thing that strikes me about this music is a lot of crossover between jazz, fusion and other styles of music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and the lounge / chillout music of the 2000’s. Here’s a few examples of things I hear on this release and how they relate to other music I’ve listened to over the years:
‘Cruise’ reminds me of early Bill Bruford’s Earthworks releases. The trombone line has a tone / texture to it that is similar to the sound of Django Bates’ tenor horn on these releases. And the multi-tracking of the trombone really lends a dimension of the interplay Ian Bellamy and Django Bates had on the Earthwork’s Dig? release.
‘Letter to J. G.’ has a Jan Garbarek feel with the alto saxophone’s reedy and yet smooth sound. It starts off with an abstract, almost drone like opening with a lilting saxophone line over the top of it, until eventually the percussion comes in and the piece starts to build. I could say there is an element of Oregon in the addition of tabla, and a bit of the phrasing / feel of the Paul Winter Consort. I wonder if the J. G. of the title really is Jan Garbarek?
‘Drift’ is a slow tempo, ballad featuring mandolin and tin whistle. What sets this apart from a lot of tracks is the mandolin is actually used in a phrasing that sounds more like an eastern folk tune than in a traditional blue grass style. The tin whistle doubles on top of the mandolin to reinforce the melodic elements of the piece. What strikes me about this is that the tin whistle reminds me of Zbigniew Preisner’s score for Kieslowski’s Dekalog films, particularly the first film, and haunting image of the Watcher (or the Observer might be a better name for the un-named character).
It’s really an interesting range of things that have worked their way into this release. I think in the end I’ve noticed more of the jazz, world, fusion elements, but those are not the only things. Like some of the tracks are very solidly guitar-lead tracks, and many more elements.
The team at Tunguska is trying something new with this release, and it’s a really cool experiment. They’ve worked with a company called 3plet to produce a mobile app for iOS and Android that integrates the music from this release artwork, and extensive biographical notes on each artist and songs on this release. It’s really a cool app that provides a different dimension to listening to this music.
You might have to dig a bit in iTunes or the Play Store to find the app. I searched on my phone for “Autumn Tram” and it was the 23rd app in the list. Not exactly a stellar location, but at least I was able to find it.
Here’s the project page for 3plet’s Autumn Tram app on their website. [Ed. Note: Link removed, no longer working.]
This release has really brought me back to some of the things that I was listening to before I got into current electronic music. The old Earthworks, Paul Winter Consort, Oregon releases still have a special place in my collection. Merging regional elements with electronic music was what brought me to Six Degrees Records early in my electronica listening. Now this release brings all of them together: jazz, electronica, and world music. The fact that this is a chillout / lounge release makes it really good for many listening scenarios.
And then, to top it off, the 3plet iOS and Android app adds another dimension to listening to this music. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, especially the really talented musicians and artists involved in all the Tunguska releases.