In we find everything we’ve come to expect from Tundra Toddler, the long-running electronic solo project of Northampton’s Adam Kozak, a founding member of such vastly disparate and crushingly brilliant projects as PONDS and Sylphid. But while it paces anxiously around the perimeter of the old Tundra Toddler camp with its clammy hands in its pockets, this latest release also kicks up a whole lotta new artistic and conceptual dust, the likes of which has never been quite so thick and swirly while still bearing the TT moniker. Cough cough. Hang on.
Consistently not-too-heavy industrial-flavored beats and almost-poppy hooks under the Ministry slash New Order influence are mainly what these songs share aesthetically, and that’s quite refreshing to hear in an era of maximalist envelope-pushing and overbearing parlor trickery in the electronic music world. As is Kozak’s melodramatic, Patton-esque vocal style. Songs are totally fucked up in their own special ways, but each breathes and stares at you on its own weird terms; always with the hairy eyeball of a twisted and enigmatic experiment, never that pop jam eyelash bat.
Against this sturdy production backdrop, a sardonic sense of humor holds all of together like the freaky, Lecterian skinsuit it is. Taken with the title then (duh) and track names like “Joan, I’m Only Drinking”, “Everyone is Fucking Without Me”, and “Funeral DJ”, the traditionally “dancey” feel of the music on this release becomes a real fulcrum for some dark comedy. A type of joking that is, we know, a tool best used in the effacement of pain.
We can’t grasp every little thing these songs are about ’cause, well, we didn’t write ’em. But we can come to understand that contrary to the feelings their sounds may seem to be trying to conjure within our souls (be that due to conditioning, plain dumbness, or actual physical reaction to certain combinations of timbre and frequency) their contents come from deep, dark places in the human experience; places where things like grief, loneliness, anxiety, and depression live. A tiny glimpse of such is provided via Tundra Toddler’s Facebook page, where one track per week for the last 12 weeks has been posted from with varying degrees of explanation.
So the next time some dingaling maligns electronic music for lacking in feeling or authenticity due to “not having real instruments” or “using computers”, you can go right ahead and give ’em the finger (provided you’ve taken a marker and written http://www.soundcloud.com/tundratoddler on said appendage). Or better yet, take your dingaling friend to see Tundra Toddler play a rare live set with Home Body, St. Nothing, Little Spoon, and Sports Coach this Friday in JP at a certain Haus of Pale Repute.