Wooden Son by TommigunRelease date: September 23, 2016
Label: 9000 Records
I think I’d really like Belgium. I’ve been through it once to get to somewhere else but it was dark, the coach didn’t stop and I’ve never gotten around to making up for that since, despite knowing a few friends there, being wowed by the architecture of many parts of it and working with some of its lovely inhabitants (both native and transplanted). I should really make it my business to go before it becomes a lot more difficult to do so…
And of course there’s the music. Belgium has a fine heritage of independent music that sets itself neatly and oddly to one side of everyone else, and Brussels-based (and Ghent-affiliated) Tommigun are no exception to this quirky rule.
‘Chant’, their grainy introduction to Wooden Son, is an interesting doorway into their intentions here with its prison blues connotations and hard labour rhythms. This carries on into the first song proper, ‘Turn Over’; here they use influence as inspiration rather than direction, reinterpreting the blues in a similar fashion to the way that spiritually-adopted Belgian Mark Lanegan did with Blues Funeral. Indeed, ‘Turn Over’ seems just as informed by Lanegan’s ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’ as anything from much further back, performed with more than enough originality and personality to avoid stepping on any toes in the process.
All the way through Wooden Son is evidence of things being done, but done a little bit differently. The title track’s spine seems ripped straight out of U2’s ‘One’, but soon turns into something more creepily akin to Radiohead with occasional Twin Peaks vibes and rockbreaking chorus. ‘Big Wave’ swerves a possible Big Piano Chord Pop Tune comparison by underpinning it with backwards-recorded synths and gospel backing vocals that could be almost Evangelical if the whole thing didn’t sound so bloody sinister. The guitar stabs in ‘Slagstamp’ are so weird and distorted that they shouldn’t work as well as they do in Tommigun’s elegantly-crafted world – everything here is exactly almost out-of-place, and this is why it all works so well.
Tommigun put a recognisable stamp right across Wooden Son by making sure that they’re never in a rush to get from one end of a song to the other, each track is definitely and deliberately punctuated to let everything drip into your subconscious as it builds from minimalist beginnings to impassioned, cacophonous beasts. Wooden Son is a record that resolutely refuses to sit comfortably in any box long enough for anyone to say what it is, and anyone prepared to put aside any such nonsense as worrying about classification or pigeonholing will find much to love in these myriad folds and hidden corners.