Nests Of Waves And Wire
In case you were wondering, tartufi name means truffle in Italian. According to this San Francisco duo, it's a moniker left behind by a former member, rather than one either would have willfully applied. They just sorta stumbled into it. Luckily, it's a name that fit them well enough to keep. Since the term can refer to either a rare, edible fungi or a confection (in Italy it's an elaborate dessert involving ice cream), and since the band has a similarly dirty-hidden-underground-but-still-tantalizingly-sweet-treasure feeling, Tartufi makes sense, and so does the title of their latest album, Nests Of Waves And Wire, as the experimental duo's music resembles an knotty interwoven bundle.
When it comes to Tartufi, the one point most music journalists revisit time and again is their ability to produce an orchestrated mass of music that seems like it should be coming from a whole tribe of people, instead of just two. Both Lynne Angel and band mate Brian Gorman are multi-instrumentalists. Vocal duties fall square in the lap of Lynne Angel (whose voice sounds an awful lot like that of indie music luminary Kim Deal), and in addition to singing, Angel plays the guitar and percussion. Gorman is on drums, glockenspiel, and megaphone, while both play bass and keyboards. Before I continue, please know that I have weighed and measured my words carefully throughout this review. In this next instance, however, there really is no other way to convey my meaning: the tune “Dot Dash” doesn't fuck around. It is a song that, with its stops and starts, sustained by a short-long undercurrent, honestly adheres to its name—and does so with great joy. The opening track, “Fear of Tall Giraffes, Fear Of Some Birds,” exemplifies their primal harmonious qualities; think Polyphonic Spree meets Erase Errata. At times their symphonic whorl can be a bit dizzying, but it makes listening to Tartufi that much more grand.
Discerning listeners will pick up on the diversity of influences from which Tartufi has built their sound. Some are apparent (Explosions In The Sky, Animal Collective) while others could easily go unnoticed, even after several listens (Fairport Convention, Wu Tang Clan, and Metallica). That last one was especially jarring, yet a lone electric guitar noodling its way through the halfway mark of “Engineering” does indeed hearken back to Black Album-era, sounding remarkably similar to the opening notes of “Nothing Else Matters.”
Not content to work hard for their benefit alone, Tartufi also generously devote as much time as possible to support other bands from their community. Thread Productions is a collective started in 2006 by Angel and Gorman in conjunction with fellow Bay Area bands. Theirs is a simple credo: help each other. Share resources, go to each other's shows, and talk up Thread Productions and its constituents to the media. The instinct to deviate from the often vicious pissing contests perpetuated in emerging music scenes is refreshing—and apparently quite effective, as all bands involved have seen an increase in interest, CD sales, and audience attendance at live performances.