Rarely does a band set fourth a full LP of vaulted material composed around the same time as their debut release some 30 years earlier. And even rarer does that archived work artistically eclipse the first release. The standard modus operandi for most perennial artists is to rerelease the early material decades later with a few bonus tracks. Usually amounting to outtakes left off the original presentation for running time concerns, rare B-sides to singles, or material that was not deemed aesthetically right for inclusion at the time, devotees, aficionados, and connoisseurs, consider themselves fortunate to have access to a few of these orphaned recordings.
But here with "Fact and Fiction," Tranquil Eyes have accomplished the almost impossible task of presenting a full LP of cohesive unheard work from their beginnings. Catapulting themselves from the realm of a critically acclaimed minimal electronics project, to the pedestal of "musicians musicians" that includes New Romantic groundbreakers YMO, Bill Nelson, and Japan, the music here is anything but left overs.
Built on a foundation of robust polyrhythmic sequences, stately Asian chord architecture, and Beatles Sgt. Pepper's anthemia, the compositions are worked and reworked again as if they are looking for some alchemic answer. Its the place where weft techno pop patterns meet a progressive rock maturation while answering the continental resound of 80's electronic music. Replete with worldliness, sophistication, and heartfelt desires, these songs paint snapshots in time, recall memories, and even expand the landscape of possibility. And while they are characterized by commanding arrangements and a driving energy, they are not without elements of finesse and experimentation. Tranquil Eyes confront their listener with essentials and seduce them with subtleties. What would otherwise seem to be a bit of sonic texturing or filtering, often serves them in duality, both as the glue that binds the work together and the nuance of character that draws one closer. Vivid story telling and a declarative yet introspective androgynous lyric delivery tap into the élan vital of the listener to create a sense of knowing while seemingly walking through far off and distant lands. In short, the work is technical, literary, and exotic.
With a percolating bass sequencer and "I am not" summations in hand, the LP's opener "Vapour Trails" sets off the affair with a steadfast danceable gravitas. From bar to bridge and back again, the arrangement zooms and glides into the soul, challenging the listener's groove sensibility. But with "Fact and Fiction" there is no shortage of dance floor magnets. The subsequent barrage of "Tell Me What It's All About," "Coming Down," and "Time Dance," will leave even the most energetic enthusiast winded.
For the cerebral listener, repeated spins will reveal a complex and well put together collection of songs. Hidden in the layers underneath the pop hooks, are the nuts and bolts of substance and significance. Those meticulous small touches and inherent intangibles that place this work of art in Aristotle's metaphysical notion of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
No doubt "Fact and Fiction" will appeal to those who grew up on the genre as well as those who evolved because of it. For it has the potential to influence the sentiments and awareness of anyone that listens to it. But more importantly, it keeps alive a particular majestic era of synth pop and the inclusiveness it stood for. Highly recommended.
Artist Link: https://www.onderstroomrecords.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/tranqu