Albums, Music, The Revue — November 6, 2017 at 5:05 am

Tuvaband – ‘Mess’ (EP review)

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Jazz and blues are the ideal genres to enjoy with a glass of wine or smoky whiskey. They are genres that naturally calm the nerves and ease the soul. Every so often, however, a band within the indie scene arrives and challenges this perception of the perfect pairing. Challenge is probably the incorrect word but rather a band that expands our understanding of the phrase. Oslo-based duo Tuvaband are one such group making us re-calibrate how we appreciate the finer things in life.

Comprised of Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser (vocals/guitar/songwriter) and Simon Would (guitar/piano/keys), Tuvaband have captured people’s imaginations, including our own, with their lo-fi blend of indie dream-pop, dark-folk, and R&B. The concoction is an exhilarating one, which began with “(It’s Not About) Running” and evolves with the arrival of their debut EP, Mess. Like a well-aged wine or scotch, the record must be enjoyed within the confines of an intimate space and without any distractions. Only then can every single note be inhaled, absorbed, and savored.

The EP commences with the title track, “Mess”. As the floating acoustic guitar fills the air at first, Marschhäuser’s vocals enter shortly after and mesmerize. It’s not just the dreaminess of her voice, but her songwriting is spine-tingling, as she reveals her internal struggles and insecurities. She tells us, “I beg for frames to tuck me in,” and then later shares, “When things don’t work, I don’t need to worry.” The contrasting lyrics reveal a person who fears her loneliness yet accepts her fate.

A quiet eeriness lingers on “Eventually Silence”, where the languid approach creates a soundscape that is haunting. These are the walls that confine the mind of a troubled soul and a person struggling with mental illness:

“The distance to the madness undresses the mind
Force me to see what my mind
Force me to see what I shut off
And I can’t seem to turn off my mind.”

Suspense arrives in the form of the stunning and delicate “Trees”. The composition is minimalist yet it still dazzles with breathtaking moments. Would’s stirring guitar sounds distant but immediate, while Marschhäuser’s vocals possess her trademark gorgeousness. Her lyrics, too, are moving, as she delivers a piece of political and environmental poetry and explains that we must do more than just to fell trees and people.

Marschhäuser saves her best songwriting on “She’s Nothing Like a Child”. Like a silent assassin, the song is devastating in its impact. As Would’s captivating dissonant guitar echoes in the background, Marschhäuser describes the life of a young girl growing in today’s world of misinformation and violence and the misogynist attitudes of what a woman ought to resemble:

Her smile is born in the mirror in the bathroom
And her moves are made up by the way they make her body look

She reads the magazines that says how to be thinner
A
nd how to feel great about herself
She doesn’t read the newspapers
S
he can’t relate to anything
And the wars in the Middle East are just too heavy
She used to dance and whistle in the streets
She rolls her eyes at people dancing,
Whistling in the streets
She’s nothing like a child
Now she’s gone.”

The EP’s finale, “Outro”, is a summation of the first four songs, as Marschhäuser reflects on how humanity still has not learned from history.

There are extended versions of the EP available. The Spotify version has an extra song, “The Observer”, with Marschhäuser’s vocals dialed down an octave (or two). Her voice is filled with darkness and emotion, and like his partner, she shares the story of one person’s uneasiness.

An extended vinyl of the EP (available for purchase on Bandcamp) features their first two singles, “(It’s Not About) Running” and “Everything We Do Is Wrong”. Both versions are worth investing the time especially with your favorite late-night beverage and an intimate space to savor every note.

The EP is out now via Brilliance Records on iTunes/Apple Music.

Follow Tuvaband at: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

Featured photo by Lorena Solis Bravo

 

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