Tussle Telescopic Mind

[Smalltown Supersound; 2006]

Styles: post-rock, post-disco, minimalist electro
Others: Liquid Liquid, ESG, Tortoise

You know those times when you throw on an album, thinking you'll play it temporarily in the background, but before too long realize the album is practically begging you to give it full attention? Consider yourself warned with Tussle's second full-length, Telescope Mind. While the instrumental nature of the quartet may encourage you to make the listening experience a casual one, the insistent and consistent pulse of the album will draw in anyone with an ounce of rhythm. If your head doesn't bob and your feet don't tap, you just might be hopeless.

There's something so intoxicating about Tussle's beat worship. Sure, they use synths, samplers, and other electronic effects, but the core of their sound is the gorgeous interplaying of bass and drums. "Warning," with its bed of bad-ass bass and cowbell, gallops along so dirtily and funkily that it's hard not to feel like the coolest kid on the block when you're listening to it, while "Second Guessing" ups the tempo and makes its message more urgent because of it. Of course, their predecessors forged similar rhythmic paths -- going back to the steadfast Krautrockers or the bass-driven minimalist funk of Liquid Liquid -- but Tussle has since picked up the torch and is carrying it with much style.

Far from resting on their established strengths, Telescope Mind finds Tussle stretching their sound ever further with backward samples, buzzing, and clicking (as evidenced by "Cloud Melodie" and "Cloud Melodie II"), offering a welcome counterpoint to the more organic compositions that dominate. Yet, in that these moments seem to be more palate-cleansing than integral, I can't help but feel there's a stronger statement Tussle could make in the future. Can the more experimental elements be wedded to the flawless groove? Are Tussle trying to upset our very concept of rhythm with their more challenging pieces? I, for one, will stay tuned to find out.

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