Leafcutter John: Tunis
Tsuku Boshi Records

The title of Leafcutter John's Tsuku Boshi album was inspired by a visit John Burton, the UK-based producer known for his multiple Planet Mu releases (his first Leafcutter John full-length, Concourse EEP, appeared on Mike Paradinas's label in 2000), made to the Tunisian capital where a live show was presented based on recordings compiled during his stay; after the recorded show underwent some studio polishing, the wide-ranging set now arrives in physical form under the Tunis name. Some hint of the geographical locale comes through in the exotic string sounds that occasionally wend sinuous paths through the album's seven pieces.

The aptly titled, “A Slowly Growing Beautiful,” opens the album gently with six minutes of folktronic splendour featuring murmuring curlicues of harmonium and peaceful strands of acoustic guitar picking. “Palm Reader,” on the other hand, plunges deeply into a lamentation where Burton's mournful wails resound amidst a backdrop of percussive clatter and musette-like calls. Combustible rolls and rattles collide throughout the piece, which instrumentally evokes the violent exchanges one might encounter at a war-torn region. The material then veers into bold musique concrete territory where tightly packed cornucopias teeming with bells, acoustic guitar flutter, percussive noise, electric guitar stabs, electronics, and string instruments aggressively commingle (“Introduction in the Wrong Place,” “Melime_lon”). “Polysomnogram” explorative experimental setting that oscillates between hyperactive and peaceful moments, with the latter especially coming to the fore during a vocal episode where Burton intones “I'm sleeping.” Whether in fact the software was involved in the execution of the album's material, some of it—the closer “Ohm Ymy,” for example—exemplifies the shape-shifting, collagistic character of a Max/MSP production. Tunis serves as a succinct document of Burton's highly personalized style, one that sees him merging acoustic folk and electroacoustic into a bold and idiosyncratic hybrid.

December 2010