Somnambule - Writing About Music

Tu M’ ~ Just One Night

Tu M’, named for Duchamp’s final painting, are a duo from a small village in central Italy. Their music is made up of improvisations on a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments which are then electronically post-processed. The result is an attractively warm and detailed organic sound. Just One Night opens with An Afternoon In The Country whose rhythmic patterns are stitched together using the briefest of vocal samples - an intake of breath succeeded by ‘I’m’, the strum of an acoustic guitar, the throaty parp of a saxophone and the burbling of electronics. The music is busy with a gradual metamorphosis that reveals the perennial influence of Steve Reich, though reconfigured into a more colourful, freer soundworld. Lonely As A Cloud is more reflective, but retains the delicate meshing of acoustic and electronic. The repeatedly blown instruments might almost be a gentle evocation of train horns passing in the middle distance, their blare reduced to something breathier and less klaxon-like.

It’s pure projection – clearly prompted by the CD’s title - but Just One Night feels like an evocation of summer nights, when the seasonal heat, failing to dissipate, suffuses the darkness and sounds acquire an almost hallucinatory clarity. A lovely sense of wonder – or even – a wonderful sense of loveliness obtains from absorbing this music, but Tu M’ succeed at times in achieving something more challenging than mere loveliness. Their music is also intermittently difficult and challenging. Alternating with simpler, more becalmed pieces, tracks such as Strange Sleep and Wake Up, Wake Up are made up of a microscopic, ever-shifting activity that coheres into its respective form much as, say, Tony Cragg’s wall reliefs, made of plastic detritus, only begin to make sense from a distance. The music’s challenge is a delayed one however: first impressions suggest a generalised mellifluousness. Only gradually does the complexity of the assembly reveal itself – which is very much the reverse of the normal order of experience whereby persistence with something challenging repays dividends of insight. Instead, certain tracks appear to wriggle free from their perceived forms.

Hats off also to the gorgeous cover design – a slim and elegant card construction with four lovely colour images of nighttime townscapes. Well worth seeking out.
Colin Buttimer
September 2005
Published by the BBC