Tuna Laguna
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Tuna Laguna

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The best kept secret in music

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"Ripples and Swells"

Score: 7/10

I must say, it's good to hear some excellent instrumental music coming out of Norway, because I'm beginning to burn a hole in my Samuel Jackson 5 CD. Tuna Laguna is a six-piece from Trondheim, Norway, and much like their Norwegian kin, they specialize in creating some high energy instrumental rock. Outside the standard double guitar, bass, and drum setup (which changes from electric to acoustic as the mood desires), the band also employs synths, pianos, computer sounds, glockenspiels, and a "babypiano." I honestly can't tell you what a babypiano is, unless it's just a miniature version of a piano for a band member who happens to have missed a growth spurt or two. Regardless, the ingredients are set for an electrifying performance, and Ripples and Swells appropriately guides us through the fast-times of Trondheim's nightlife.

The first two tracks, "My Lunar Boots" and "On to Tarmac" establish Tuna Laguna as a playful, groovy band. Experimental, instrumental rock is laced with super smooth lounge music, and the mood is perfectly set. Those seeking epic boundaries look elsewhere, but if you're in the mood for something along the lines of Rosolina Mar or Salon Kingsadore, you can't go wrong. Tuna Laguna is understandably a more structured band, as the variety of elements used throughout a track call for some organization, otherwise the mix would be lost to chaos. "My Lunar Boots" fills the stage with grooooovy bass undertones, and the "On to Tarmac" mixes in some synth and key notes. Guitars always fill the appropriate role, whether that involves swarming in on the sound with uplifting rising action, or relegating themselves to background ambience while drums, bass, and synth occupy our attention. And we're off to a wonderful start.

"Tidal Eddies" is the rush of blood to the head that picks the album up to the next level. The band smoothly navigates the initial track, throwing down some a few teasing segments, then deflating and allowing the computer to cover the landscape with a flurry of beeps. With little effort, the track lives up to its name; from the halfway point onward Tuna Laguna fiercely drifts between blistering guitar rock and placid experimental grooves. It's the band at it's best - simultaneously focused to a pinpoint yet covering all their bases at the same time. "Barry on Safari" achieves a similar highpoint, again compromising the intense rock aspect with the lovely groove melodies that mark much of its work. Get up and dance!

I'd be lying if I said this was the extent of the band's compositional repertoire, but at this point we're already impressed with the level of sophistication that Tuna Laguna is able to display on Ripples and Swells and still make it an abundantly enjoyable listen (smart people can't have fun! Or can they?). "Feather Beats" is a hybrid of electronic sounds and math rock, recalling a off-beat flair that's similar to something The Octopus Project would attempt. "The Insignificant Grape" and album closer "That's Where We're At" are slower, down-tempo tracks that noticeably transition away from the rock format and display an altogether different approach. Typically, such a shift in style would leave the listener with a feeling of disorientation, but the underlying groove aesthetics are still present and tie these tracks in with the rest of the album. On the other hand, "Pling" and "Plong" are ballsy, experimental pieces composed almost entirely on computer, and with each clocking in just shy of one minute, I'm left scratching my head at their inclusion on Ripples and Swells. This is the only point where the band (briefly) loses the listen, but the pieces themselves are so short that it's easy to overlook.

Ripples and Swells is a wonderfully composed instrumental work, bringing in a range of influences that we generally don't see incorporated into the rock format very often. As a result, this is just the shot in the arm that might make you reconsider what you've been mindlessly enjoying in the past.

-Lee Whitefield - The Silent Ballet


Discography

2004: It's a Fudge EP
2007: Ripples and Swells LP

Nrk P3 (Norwegian Brodcasting Company Channel 3) and national and local college radios has frequently played tracks from the two releases.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Hailing from the arctic weather-beaten coast-line of Lofoten, Norway, Tuna Lagunas new album "Ripples and Swells" is a fitting title. Tuna Lagunas music is like big waves and ocean currents, enormous forces of energy, as well as moments of great beauty like the northern lights and the midnight sun.

Tuna Laguna is a instrumental rock band focusing on immediate, catchy and groovy tunes. The combination of thematic melodies and hard-hitting rhythms, with elements of upbeat post-rock, krautrock, progrock, jazz and electronica fused together into a appealing symbiosis, creates a unique sound.
This has marked Tuna Laguna as a live favourite in Norway.

"..They've got the melodies, the intoxicating dynamics, the sparkling ensemble-communication and the ability to add intensity, which music like this is totally dependent on. They never get introverted and resort to tribalism and the cream sound added to the hypnosis." - Vegard Enlid, Adresseavisen at Bylarm-festival 2007.

Since the start in 2000, Tuna Laguna has grown into a noteworthy force of nature, and the latest album "Ripples and Swells" is a confirmation of that.