Battles’ from Funke and the Two Tone Baby(May 19, 2013)
It’s a perpetual truth – I’m a sucker for new and different; often I hear the former, more infrequently the latter, sometimes they both arrive at once. Most recent arrival - the album ‘Battles’ from Funke and the Two Tone Baby (hell of a band name for one bloke, namely Daniel Turnbull). Before someone tells me it isn’t folk, it fits within the diverse definitions of our broad and long, deep and wide, far off and far ranging eclecticism.
There’s a lot going on here. So ‘Battles’ needs your attention. There’s hidden depths, strange experiences, dark corners and secret segments. Daniel describes himself as a ‘one-man mechanical alt-blues band’, well there’s blues and folk elements in here, along with chunks of rock, numerous layers of sampling, multi-instrumentation and wide-ranging interpretive vocals. And it’s the vocals that make this album. If you’re old enough to remember The Magic Band with the enigmatic vocals of Don van Vliet or the deep-down dirty murmurings of John Lee Hooker or perhaps the lyrical obscurity of Heron and Williamson, then maybe you’re closer to the heart of Daniel’s innovative vocals.
This strange craft takes off with the anarchic thump of ‘Bella’s Kiss’ and ‘Mountains’ that rip energy through the speakers, there’s a slide into the jazzy harmonica-spiced ‘The Woman Who Stood At The Edge Of The World’ and if you think you have this pinned then the evocative ‘Ode to the Pirate Ghost Witch’ will change that in an instant. The eponymous ‘Battles’ offers ruthless dark visions through abrasive guitar and synth, while ‘I’ll Love You’ complete with lilting fiddle and chirpy harmony vocals, patches through to yet another style change.
Despite breaking boundaries all over the place, I’m pretty sure that this will become ‘Marmite music’ – totally loved or thoroughly loathed. I loved it, then again I like Marmite sandwiches with sardines. No accounting for taste.
Joining Daniel Turnbull (almost every other instrument and device apart from those listed here) on ‘Battles’ are Dulcima Showan (vocals, violin) and Laura Callaghan (flute) on ‘I’ll Love You’ Dulcima Showan and Tom Wyman (additional vocals) and Davey Malone (whistles) on ‘Winter’s Return’.
Reviewer: Tim Carroll