‘Tulong’ is the second collaborative record between multi-instrumentalist Marcus Fischer and cellist The OO-Ray, the first being 2012’s ‘Tesselations’, though they also make music together in the group Unrecognisable Now. The two-track EP is being self-released to raise funds for reconstruction efforts in the Philippines, which suffered catastrophic damage and huge loss of life during last year’s Typhoon Haiyan; not incidentally, both musicians are of Filipino descent. Their work together thus far has typically been grander and more ‘widescreen’ than Fischer’s solo efforts, and more intricate and detailed than The OO-Ray’s; this balancing of two distinct approaches continues with “Tulong”.
The title of the first track, “Deluge”, immediately conjures mental images of extreme weather events, though it was in fact recorded over a year before Haiyan struck. The long opening cello notes and quiet hubbub of anonymous voices is peaceful enough. When a guitar enters, it cuts sharply across the prevailing tone, but it is not until a thick buzz is brought in that weight and tension begin to gather. The piece ends in a swirl of modulation, but this is not a typically noisy, doom-laden personification of the power of nature, and strays nowhere near the air of tired cliché that such representations usually fail to avoid.
The second track, “Reconstruction”, is more explicit in what it wants to say, immediately striking a more blissful, hopeful note. Layered strings, synth and jangly guitar drift through calm, gleaming waters, a plodding two-note cello line adding a sense of purpose and movement in the final third. It’s all very lovely. While Typhoon Haiyan has faded from the news and from the collective consciousness of those who were far from it, this release is a timely reminder than the long process of recovery has for many only just begun; yet in its autonomy as music it has an integrity and value all of its own.