CD Review: Sons of the Tundra – Murmuration

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Suns of the Tundra have three acclaimed albums under their belt: a self-titled debut (2004), Tunguska (2006), and the concept album Bones of Brave Ships (2015) as well as 2009 EP release, Illuminate. 

Murmuration is their first release for Bad Elephant Music. It is a remarkable combination of precise vocals with hard-driving instrumentation especially with the notable bass and drums of Andy Marlow and Andy Prestidge propelling the songs along, complimented by Simon Oakes and Mark Maloney’s guitars creating a plethora of sounds to provide an enjoyable experience.   

What I like about this chameleonic band is that, every time you listen to them, you’re taken in a different direction or you’re reminded about some other influence. I like bands that bust genres. Of course as a reviewer that makes it difficult to put across what the band are really like, so if I was to call them a psychedelic post-rock prog and rock band, that might only go a small way to describe them. Or if I said I hear hints of Rush, C-Sides, North Atlantic Oscillation, early Floyd, Purple, Tool…that might help a few more.

It’s clearly a work compiled and crafted over time. And like fine wine, it’s one to savour at leisure. Suns Of The Tundra have drawn from a wide palette, diverse and distinct influences, blended to display a variety of moods and styles within the seven titles, each song structure developed with purpose rather than with an eye on the clock. The heavy alternative rock has subtle pop sensibilities with prog tendencies.

For example the rumbling ‘Murmuration’ and the epic ‘Sunflower’ capture the album’s heavier side, whilst ‘Each Of Us’ and ‘Four Corners’  come across in a softer, pop-tinged vein. ‘Echo Of An Angel’ flits and flickers around an ear worm Purple-esque guitar riff whilst ‘Survive Just Fine’, is a hypnotic, ethereal soundscape and ‘Pond Life’ has a dark, prog vibe.

The bottom line is that they’ve done the best thing a band can do, which is to develop their own sound and style. Key to it is the sound of the bass, supported by drums. Rolling, propellant riffs underpin and direct the songs. That gives opportunity for layers…… and finally the psychedelic hue is epitomised by the vocals. In short, ‘Murmuration’ is very impressive and well executed, and will be of interest to psychedelically progressive-leaning alternative rock aficionados. They are a perfect addition the BEM family, with rock stylings that fit right in with label-mates The Fierce and the Dead, Shineback, and Reformat.

  1. Murmuration
  2. Each Of Us
  3. Sunflower
  4. Four Corners
  5. Echo Of An Angel
  6. Survive Just Fine
  7. Pond Life

Andy Marlow – bass, keyboards

Mark Moloney – guitar

Simon Oakes – vocal, guitar, keyboards

Andrew Prestidge – drums, percussion and synth

1, 2, 3 & 5 written by Suns Of The Tundra. 6 written by Simon Oakes, Adam Walters and Andy Marlow 4 written by Simon Oakes and Andy Marlow 7 written by Peach

Produced and mixed by Andy Marlow at Andy Marlow Studios, Brixton

Mastered by Rob Aubrey at Aubitt Studios, Southampton

Artwork by Roland Scriver at Familiar Ink

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