With the addition of Ben Thorne on bass, Tartufi has become more fluid and flexible than ever before. From their beginnings as a power-pop outfit and through to their progression into masterful loop handlers, Tartufi’s reputation for pushing musical boundaries is already well established.
These Factory Days will almost certainly continue add credence to the idea that this is an endlessly creative and intriguing collective. The sheer amount of care and precision that has gone into crafting these songs has paid off considerably, which you would expect when the genesis of the album has taken around 18 months.
This is the sound of a band on top of its game. Such is the complexity contained within the labyrinthine structures of each of these songs that it is unlikely to appeal to everyone, particularly those that like their music immediate and straightforward. These Factory Days is something of a cryptic puzzler, continually suggesting one path, only to change direction multiple times. If there are answers hidden in the grooves, they are far from obvious; but then all the fun is in the chase and the brain teasing.
Pinning Tartufi down musically is particularly tricky. There are so many elements at work that at times it can be hard to assimilate quite what is happening within a single song, let alone an entire album. There are elements of prog-rock (or post-rock if you must) at work alongside snippets of jazz, folk, pop, and every so often an occasional nod towards rock. Opening track Underwater adds a dash of ambient into the mix. It’s not so much a song, more of a linear adventure.
Lynne Angel’s vocals are quite wonderful, at times behaving more like an instrument, keeping low in the mix to provide atmosphere rather than real narrative drive. As the song develops however, she begins to come forward and take control, stamping her authority purposefully over the final volatile hook. Seldom possesses a mechanical throb, and a stampeding chaotic freedom. This coming together of the loose and the repetitive is nothing if not thrilling. It’s like a shamanic rite being performed on a factory floor with nature finally winning out by the time the song reaches its lush conclusion.
Eaves continues in a similar vein, with laid back guitar and vocals driven along by a scampering drum pattern. The band quickly establishes a hypnotic groove that rushes forward, slows, then rushes on again; somehow emerging into a colossal guitar riff that comes from out of nowhere. It’s here they’re at their most aggressive, finding a space that nestles neatly between Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Steve Hillage‘s The Glorious Om Riff. The only other real concession to all out aggression comes at the close of 8:1 which inexplicably explodes in a fit of range having started life as a rather quaint (if slightly unsettling) take on Waters Of Babylon. Sadly it’s gone almost as soon as it starts, and is perhaps the only time that it feels as if Tartufi miss a trick on the album. Such a formidable force begs to be explored more fully.
Elsewhere the more easily grasped ambient folk of Glass Eyes neatly shows off the band’s habit of writing quite glorious melodies and building them into something utterly grand and spellbinding. Furnace Of Fortune is an endless barrage of moods, ideas, and tempos, and possibly the best example of what Tartufi are all about. Never settling for too long in any one style, the band explores every aspect of their personality. Disjointed it might be, but as with much of These Factory Days, attempting to keep pace with the band as they twist and turn, hammer into dead ends, and spin away in different directions is breathless and rewarding.