When I write an album review I try to look for some over arching theme. Something that ties the album together, that makes it more than the disparate collection of singles are forefathers called albums. If I can find something it means I can write something more unified, more than just a series of track review. In Tunabunny’s Kingdom Technology I thought I’d found this mythical thing in its lo-fi ness, especially when juxtaposed with the album’s title. Kingdom Technology wouldn’t be an awful name for the age in which most of Planet Earth’s human population finds itself. We rely on technology at every level in our life (and more loosely maybe we always have), even to pretend that we don’t have said technology.
I don’t know an enormous amount about music production, and truthfully had I not read the albums press release I’d probably have contentedly described it as a ‘lo-fi’ without any of this fuss. I might even have compared it to the likes of Guided by Voices to really drive my point in. Aesthetically this IS lo-fi music, the tracks don’t sound polished, there are incongruous samples, the sort of music being played is recognisably ‘lo-fi’ sounding. So why am I left feeling so unsatisfied? The band are not hiding anything, they are proud of their creation and indeed trumpet how they’ve made it sounds and of the inherent strangeness of a digitally recorded record sounding analogue.
They are also very much in the spirit of lo-fi, the album certainly subscribes to a DIY philosophy (in that they recorded the album on something fished out of a bin) but that they thought the aesthetical aspect of lo-fi was so important they saw fit to artificially create the sound (and therefore the feel) is curious. Perhaps it’s a desire to pursue some sort of needless authenticity?
It’s easy to be cynical about this sort of thing, especially as we’re currently in something of a golden age of artificially filtered photographs but the band’s sincerity suggests otherwise, in fact I’m inclined towards the view that it was purely an aesthetic decision, in reaction to certain norms within the musical landscape. I think, even without its artificial aspects Kingdom Technology would still somehow be ‘lo-fi’ especially in that its 14 tracks are incredibly varied and it has the fast and loose feel of a demo.
The album is merely symptomatic of a wider trend, and not just in music. In Kingdom Technology we use what tools we have to fake our way to a socially accepted perfection, except like Tunabunny we’re not always faking.