Monday, June 13, 2016

Pitstop: Tuskha

While North Carolina trio, the Bowerbirds were on their last tour supporting their third full length record The Clearing, they unveiled a new set of songs that were more exploratory and synth based in nature and largely helmed by Phil Moore.That was back in June of 2012 and the band and the project has certainly had a lot of marinate since then. After holding one of the most interactive Kickstarter campaigns I have seen, the duo set towards building an at home studio to record their new records as well as set to work on delivering many of their promised rewards. Phil Moore and Beth Tacular also welcomed a brand new baby into the world. But all that while, the twosome have been hard at work on new music, fitting it in between child rearing and life itself and while Moore has promised new Bowerbirds material is on the horizon, the first new music to make it out of their cabin is that of Moore's solo project Tuskha.

Originally called Island Dweller, Tuskha has been on a creative journey all its own. Outside of the shows of their summer tour in 2012 where the first previewed the project, Moore has also used a year-long project Small Songs From Small Tiny House to further explore where the project could go. But last year's single "The Program" was really the first official taste of Moore's more electronic slant. The most surprising thing about Tuskha is how much of Moore's core songwriting beliefs make their way into it. Moore has always imbued the Bowerbirds' tunes with a reverence of the great outdoors and the majesty of Mother Nature and that's not missing in Tuskha. The result is an enticing blend of the mechanical and inorganic, pastoral imagery, and thoughtful lyricism. It's an oddly fitting next step from The Clearing which turned what many thought they knew of the Bowerbirds on its head.

The Clearing was exploratory and substantive but also definitive of what the Bowerbirds have essentially been trying to do all along: they weren't your garden variety folk band and with The Clearing they asserted that they weren't ever really folk to begin with. That exploration and experimentation with textures and sounds is alive in Tuskha who trades the various timbres of the Bowerbirds' accordion, strings, marimba, et al. into samples and effects. And for the dip into the electronic, Moore never loses sight of the human element. A Debussy sample ("The Shine"), the emotive power of  his own voice, programmed drums that occassionally draw from Bowerbirds' Yan Westerlund, it's a mixture of worlds that as inventive as it is human; a testament to modern life - filled with technology but vested in the unrelenting pulse of nature.

Tuskha's self-titled album is out and available for stream/download with physical release details coming soon. Tuskha will also be on tour with Wye Oak this summer, check tour dates here.

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