Someone Good – RMSG – 18th March 2016
Reading the info accompanying the album, I was relieved to learn that it has nothing to do with football. Granted, it says more about me than it does anything or anyone else, but I’ve never been a huge fan of sport. It probably never helped that apart from being quite a handy medium-pace bowler with a nifty Yorker, and a decent cross-country runner (I discovered early on that by getting a move on, I could be back in the changing rooms, showered and reading a book before anyone else got halfway round the course. I loved reading, and hated communal showers), I was shit at sport. It also happens that many of the kind of people who are big sports enthusiasts simply aren’t my kind of people, and I consider fantasy football leagues the biggest, stupidest waste of time going. But let’s not focus too much on the cover art (I’m thinking that despite Tuttle’s Australian background that it’s baseball rather than Aussie rules, but what do I know? And what do I want to know? It could be squash or lacrosse for I care. What matters is that Andrew Tuttle’s fantasy league is about a utopian environment. Said environment sets social interaction against total isolation, self-reflexivity against self-confidence.
It’s an interesting proposition, and Tuttle plays an interesting and rather unusual array of instruments in order to create the sonic structures by which to explore this concept: computer, synthesiser, banjo, and acoustic guitar. Hardly your average configuration for music making. But then, Fantasy League is not an average album, in any respect.
Broadly speaking, it’s an ambient work. Banjo and guitar are present, but woven subtly into shifting, drifting soundscapes of drones and undulating widescreen sounds. Bubbling, bleeping electronics, ripples and swishes are all fundamental parts of the album’s sonic fabric. The strummed and picked strings add a unique slant amidst the burrs of fizzing treble bursts which erupt, wibbling every which way: with hints of hillbilly blues over a static hiss on ‘Forgtten Username?’ and gentle folk motifs informing ‘Forgotten Password? before insect scutters scrabble all over and devour them, the resultant output sounds like country music from another dimension. Elsewhere, there are Tangerine Dream-like moments, notably on ‘Public League’, where multiple time signatures pulse and interweave to form a sonic latticework.
What renders Fantasy League so intriguing and compelling is the way in which Tuttle distorts the familiar: the sounds themselves are no challenge to compute or comprehend, but the way in which they’re juxtaposed and twisted together is uncanny, as if Fantasy League is a soundtrack from a parallel universe. And it sounds like a place well worth visiting.