From Good Stock is the debut album of London-based trio Tandem. They say accurately that their original music ’defies collective classification’. There are echoes of various sources and influences throughout.
Many pieces are pleasing to listen to, if a little ephemeral in effect. It is impressionist folk music, easy to get drawn into with meandering, wandering paths to follow.
Tandem are guitarist Dave Malkin and fiddle player Charlie Pell, friends from school days, who have teamed up with composer Ben Corrigan, who adds in an electronic component to the music. Dave is a third-year student at Trinity College of Music, London, who has assembled a range of musicians to help bring these compositions to life.
From Good Stock also features guest musicians Pete Hill (drums), Ben Hayes (bass), Timea Gazdag (vocals), Tom Dennis (trumpet) and Sam James (keys). The result is a blend of folk music with acoustic and electronic interludes. There are moments with a traditional sound, but the electronic element interfaces with the rest to create a contemporary effect.
The first piece, after which the album is named, is one of the most powerful and pleasant. It sounds familiar until suddenly the electronic current intervenes to give the folk fiddle a different flavour. Looking for a name, this music could be called 21st century Wyndham Hill.
The title song, From Good Stock, takes its name from a number of coincidental connections between their parents and grandparents, discovered after Dave and Charlie formed their musical allegiance. From Good Stock also draws influence from the bleak Fenland landscape around their boyhood homes in the fields of south Lincolnshire. However, this first piece does not really give a clue to the sound of the rest of the album, which is far more varied.
The second piece, 1698, opens with a lyrical piano reflection before turning into one of a handful of songs on the album. Accompanied by guitar, this is a gentle love song which fades away as quietly as it began. Cards for Kisses is another love song which starts almost dreamily. The addition of brass in the background contributes to the feeling of being deep below water level.
Princess Alice is the third love song, pursuing the sea theme that links the three songs together, and once again displaying Dave Malkin’s honest voice to good effect. The instrumental background is lyrically poignant but with a harsher electronic edge - at moments almost a disco beat - that gives drama to the tragic storyline.
There are a number of instrumental pieces which start quietly and work themselves up, if not into a frenzy, then certainly to a lively and intense combination of sounds. The electronic element is always there, watching and waiting, to lend further intensity to the blend.
After the Gate opens with a remote jazz fiddle which livens up and turns into a modern tune with guitar and percussion accompaniment. Ganka’s Dance has a flamenco flavour, and it is easy to imagine a dancer in the foreground.
Captain Trips successfully blends traditional folk fiddle with a more modern sound, creating a waxing and waning emotional intensity whilst Golden Harps ’bends and blends guitar and fiddle around haunting electrickery’.
The album ends with a more traditional folk piece, One-Eyed Monster, featuring bodhrán player Kieran Leonard.
From Good Stock opens and closes with a pure folk sound, and journeys in many directions within this frame. It’s a diverting journey to follow.Karin Horowitz
Mixed, mastered and engineered by Ben Corrigan.
Album is available from thetandemthree.bigcartel.com
1. From Good Stock
3. After the Gate
4. Ganka’s Dance
5. Cards for Kisses
6. Golden Harps
7. Captain Trips
8. Princess Alice
9. One-Eyed Monster