Tomaga, Futura Grotesk - faded sepia photo of a man and a woman

Futura Grotesk

Nippy and gnawing drum patterns from Valentina Magaletti rotate against factory noise that sounds like a printer processing in a one shot sample. Tom Relleen’s bass guitar prods the soundscape with a screeching melody that is somnambulated by dub echoes from the percussion. This first track on “Futura Grotesk”, coming out of the reliable Hands In The Dark Records (Robedoor, Saåad etc), shares a similar gentrified mood with Bill Withers’ “Use Me” before shuddering to a close like an interlude stripped of a pair of scales with which to weigh the next move.

Second piece “Long Term Green” introduces an undulating organ that plays a gently buzzing tune, with a prickly percussive shell on top. This playing field echoes krautrock pioneers Can before they went “Future Days” past time. “Malintesi” ribbets its bass guitar like a frog with hiccups, plugged into a phaser machine. The eastern synthesisers and mbira contrast well against the militant drum arrangement, and the fade-out happens at a time when conundrums are thrown into question just as drums rebel against the fusion con. Fusion arises as a breakthrough proper on the album’s title track, a tiny speckle of higher octave bass guitar greeted by low end grunt and waterfall-as-whole rolls. Vibes round off this side of the record with a peaceful, seemingly necessary dispersion of the experimentation that preceded.

Side M (the previous titled T) grasps conglomerate synth folly and fullsome fx on “Taste The Indifference”, with a more sinister mood anything else on the release. Comparisons to Grumbling Fur are suggestive, for Tomaga enact a similarly disgruntled dissolution of song forms and genres. However, where they differ is in their indifference to a pleasing rhythm, their ricocheting sound collages maintaining an arch-conceptualist stance. There may be two of them in TOMAGA, but this LP feels a transfusion of vital organs from both participants (just as much as the organ, in this record amongst other instruments, is vital to the album’s success). “Mountain Opener” takes in all this reviewer’s observations with a percussion dirge dipping into a reservoir of droney bass synth. The plentiful quenching of thirst on this tempo-less section provides a needed respite from the bass guitar nudges, and even though they return minutes after, they set up and purify an altogether gloomy amalgam that rises in mood on the finale, “Days Like They Were Before”. It’s quite like Tortoise and likeable in bass guitar to Ninja Tune’s Bonobo. “Futura Grotesk” shows TOMAGA to be no one trick stallion, but by the evidence of this stuff, nowhere near pony either.


Exclusive full album stream

Listen to “Futura Grotesk” in full ahead of the album’s release on 12th November 2014, courtesy of label Hands In The Dark.

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