Andrew Tuttle: Fantasy League
Conceptually, Andrew Tuttle's second album draws inspiration from the idea of “a utopian fantasy environment,” one pivoting between social interaction and total isolation. In truth, said concept is probably less relevant to the listener vis-à-vis his/her experience of the recording than it was as a creative impetus for Tuttle. What's more germane is that in using banjo, acoustic guitar, computer, and synthesizer as his sound-generating arsenal, Tuttle has produced an eleven-song set whose merging of folk and electronics proves consistently arresting. Fantasy League, by the way, is the Brisbane-based musician's follow-up to 2015's Slowcation (A Guide To Saints), though Tuttle also issued material under the Anonymeye alias prior to 2013.
He adjusts the music's aperture from one track to the next, such that the banjo-based mantra with which the album opens, “Registration,” leaps into a different galaxy altogether for the subsequent track, “Activation,” which oozes that starry-eyed character associated with synth-crazed astral travelers currently populating the musical landscape. Tuttle's synthesizers twinkle, sparkle, and shimmer for eight blindingly radiant minutes, and do so as memorably during the later “Public League” and “Account Locked.” Settings such as these suggest Tuttle's desire to render the visual dazzle of exploding fireworks into sonic form and largely succeeding in doing so.As mesmerizing as those pieces are, the album's at its most captivating when Tuttle unites the acoustic and electronic realms: the blending of the two in “Leaderboard” is definitely attention-getting, even if the reverie is over quickly at two minutes, and it's certainly not everyday that one hears a banjo being picked while synthesizers burble and swirl alongside it, as happens, for example, during “Forgotten Username?” and “Injury Crisis”; that extra dimension also helps give Fantasy League an individuating character that sets it apart from recordings whose soundworld is exclusively synthesizer-rooted. At such moments, the concept Tuttle deployed to bring the album into being falls by the wayside as one's attention fixates entirely on the sonic dazzle in play.