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Friday, October 11, 2013

Zenjungle & Tunedin52 - free music for free spirits in unfree environments

By Stef

The great thing about social media and digital space is the democracy of sound. It is cheap to share, there are no labels or music critics or other hurdles who can stand between you - the musician - and you - the listener. You browse a little bit, you find stuff, you think it's worth talking about.

So is this unusual duo of Zenjungle and Tunedin52, artist names for Phil Gardelis from Greece and John Daly from Ireland. The former plays tenor and soprano sax, electronics and piano, the latter plays guitar, baritone guitar, electronics. Both also add found sounds, sound effects and field recordings.

Their music is carefully paced and relatively accessible in its cautious inobtrusive approach. It is avant-garde, but not boundary-breaking. It is new even if not really innovative. You can call it nu jazz, post-jazz or ambient jazz, or whatever jazz, it is still worth mentioning and highlighting.

You can admire the duo's relentless search for their own voice and sound, their obstinate pursuit of newness, of expressing oppressive environments where things evolve in a way that is clearly not liberating. You can feel the constraints and the inner tension. You can feel how gentleness is somehow crushed, how darkness tries to be pierced, how suddenly beauty erupts out of industrial darkness. Or as the band describes their "Learning To Breathe In New Spaces"

"This is space, we must survive, we must learn to breathe, it hurts, we hurt, life is pain, there is no escape, death is the absence of pain, embrace pain, embrace life, the fiery breath of survival is incessant: there's a freight train coming down the sax, wire wound, brass round wound, blowing across the frets, jazz wobblelations, acousmatic high wire acts, vibrating electro magnetic signals blend in resonating harmonies, journeying incognito through micro tonal scopic variables, a signpost says this way and we go the other but end up in paradise, harmonic wonderment of the elemental kind, love, life, death, suffering, ecstasy, we roll we razz, we stroll through the maze, a bright light guides and blinds us, jazzish, zentunes".

There are many bands like this one, for sure, but this duo has some great concept of sound and focus. Once they set an environment, what they will do with it remains in character, they will change, evolve, expand, deconstruct, but the essence of the tune, and its atmosphere remains intact throughout, impactful and coherent. That is a great feat.

I will leave the discovery up to you, it is all available on bandcamp.

Zenjungle & Tunedin52 - Learning To Breathe In new Spaces (Bandcamp, 2013) ***½

Zenjungle & Tunedin52 - Still Life (Bandcamp, 2013) ***½

Zenjungle & Tunedin52 - Behind the Shed (Bandcamp, 2013) ***

Zenjungle & Tunedin52 - Mesh (Bandcamp, 2012) ***½