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Andrew Tuttle & Padang Food Tigers Unfurl Starkly Compelling Ambient On New Collab LP

On their new collaborative full-length album A Cassowary Apart, Andrew Tuttle and Padang Food Tigers — who are from Australia and the United Kingdom, respectively — have crafted a thoroughly stirring musical journey into an inviting unknown.

Foundationally, the artists perform drifting clouds of mesmerizing ambient music, with breezily drawn out sounds. The music feels inwardly peaceful, and this sonic guiding light feels quite accessible, too. Listening to A Cassowary Apart could be compared to slowly boating down an isolated woodland river, with a teeming overhead cloud of vibrant sound and a consistent sense of forward movement that feels subtly exploratory, like floating along without knowing where the waterway actually ends up.

Although tracks including “Game of Marginal Gains” and “Bespoke Proviso” feature comparatively more intense segments, the music largely feels rather unencumbered. The sound is stark yet poignantly compelling, with wispy banjo performances, acoustic and electric guitars, synths, and more all flowing through the mix.

The banjo helps set the scene — both Andrew Tuttle and Padang Food Tigers (comprised of Spencer Grady and Stephen Lewis) utilize the instrument, and it appears somewhat promptly on the first track, figuring rather prominently while moving through the album. With their free-flowing performances, the artists seem to highlight the instrument’s sense of a kind of earthy grounding. Ultimately, the entirety of the record feels invitingly warm, with no particular tension emerging within the sound.

There’s a stillness in the immersively atmospheric sound that provides a feeling of contemplative solitude. Like other elements, the brightness in the sound feels subtle — it’s not a particularly structurally soaring creation à la crescendo-driven post-rock. Instead, the spaciousness of the sound provides a somewhat open-ended area for emotional exploration and discovery. The music centers on a sense of quiet peace, like mentally sitting in an inward stream of bubbling emotion, and the rather lush sound makes this tranquility seem quite permeating and subtly rejuvenating.

The music largely feels rather free-form and is apparently somewhat improvisation-based, which helps establish its sense of emotional reality. A Cassowary Apart feels like a wordless story that explores an intermingling of peace and growth, which can be tense, although this element isn’t emphasized here. Instead, Tuttle and Padang Food Tigers hint at a broader expanse — “Inveterate Observatories,” the album’s penultimate track, feels like gazing up into a shadowy sky slowly filling with visible stars. Here, the shimmering tones feel extra stark, adding force to the bright atmosphere.

Among other highlights, a piano appears on “An Appropriate Bluff,” with a familiarly free-flowing and wistful performance that exudes gentility, and the album as a whole ends, in part, with an audio sample of applause. Communal applause vanished from many locales after the onset of COVID-19, and pondering all those temporarily lost expressions of community can feel tenuous. So many expressions of interpersonal connection all but vanished.

Nevertheless, Tuttle and Padang Food Tigers have captured something special. The quiet emotional power inherent in certain lost moments is not gone — it’s shifted. Peace has a staying power, as so eloquently expressed within this music.

5/5 Stars

Listen to A Cassowary Apart via Bedroom Suck Records below!