TUNE-YARDS “I CAN FEEL YOU CREEP INTO MY PRIVATE LIFE”
As a person with white skin, there is no damage in bearing your privileges in mind once and again – and recognize your own racist mechanisms. Merrill Garbus, female half of the pop duo Tune-Yards has recently participated in a six-month workshop on racism. The goal of the workshop was to help white people to see themselves as part of a multinational community – naturally, this caused altered perspectives.
The song “Colonizer” on Tune-Yards new, amazing album “I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life” is a direct result of this new self-awareness: A bass-heavy dance beat is accompanied by Garbus’ lyrics “I use my white woman’s voice to tell stories of travels with African men … I turn on my white woman’s voice to contextualize acts of my white woman friends” – distressing for herself since the lyrics aren’t role prose, but her own further behavior.
But the self-accusation as a concealed racist is just one aspect of the work of the new Tune-Yards. New, because Merrill Garbus’ longtime companion and co-musician Nate Brenner is now an official member of the Tune-Yards. His elastic, buzzing bass lines have been a part of Tune-Yards’ music for a long time – but now it’s official, so to say. Also new is Garbus’ incarnation as a DJ: after the anti-racist workshop, she thoroughly studied dance and house music, which also explained the almost consistent danceability of the tracks. The trademark-sounds, such as ukulele, percussion and voice loops and bizarre synth sounds, are still there, but yet they gave way to a more songlike approach, as it was the case in the last album “Nikky Nack”. Not all of their fans like this, some of them have already complained about Tune-Yards becoming mainstream and sell-outs – but come on, please give this album a listen: If this is mainstream I’m in!
The topics are politically current; it’s gender equality, American politics, the destruction of the environment. Musically you can hear/feel Garbus’ and Brenner’s love for the 80’s – which in their case means: post wave and disco of the New York kind, 4-to-the-floor combined with free jazz in the spirit of Tom Tom Club, Liquid Liquid or KONK. Percussive, repetitive, pressing, bass-heavy; especially on tracks like “ABC 123”, “Heart Attack” and “Honesty”. Garbus also wanted her voice to sound machinelike-artificial: She puts her hot vocals through the MPC distortion, but always remains recognizable as Tune-Yards. Sometimes there seem to be too many ideas for one sone, but this chaotic-untidy element prevents overly smooth structures. In short: There is no reason to fear that Tune-Yards will turn into a mainstream act.
Translation by Denise Oemcke
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