Kling Klang

It takes hubris to name your debut album after Kraftwerk's studio, not to mention one of Kraftwerk's best tracks. But any band willing to risk humiliation by comparison also has the potential for greatness. San Francisco quartet Tussle is up to the challenge.

You can enter a Tussle track at any point in its duration and get the gist of it. That may sound like an insult, but in this instance, consider that high praise -- it's all good within the tight confines of a Kling Klang tune. For the Tussle boys are masters of the Möbius-Strip funk jam, the Ouroboros percussion-and-bass workout, the infinite chug of metronomic bliss. Furthermore, the band wisely understands that four minutes is optimal for getting the point across.

Disc opener "Here It Comes" is a clear statement of intent: spare, clattering percussion around which stoic bass lines snake, dart, and bob with both Teutonic precision and stealthy 1981 Manhattan funk. The two drummers' crisp, efficient stickwork is accented with handclaps, woodblocks, and claves, putting a LeBron James-like spring in your step; elsewhere, the dubwise use of reverb on voices, keyboards, and cowbell serves as counterpoint to the pervasive linear groove science. Tussle's no-bullshit, vocalless warehouse dub disco heralds the return of a rare breed of minimalist, experimental dance music, still exemplified by Liquid Liquid and ESG. It's back to basics, not to mention sick bass.


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