by Daniel Kussy
Complexion is the long awaited debut LP by Winnipeg noise-punk trio Tunic. Released as the product of a group who built their sound over the last 5 years across multiple single/EP releases, Complexion creates a polarizing, heart-racing sound that treads a new path in the world of punk.
The first moments of “Nothing Nothing” has all engines firing, a barrage of noise that sets the tone for Complexion. To say this album is intense in an understatement. David Schellenberg’s anguished voice shrieks just as loud as his guitar, while Rory Ellis’ throbbing bass provides a lot of the melody on the album, especially on tracks like “Evan” and “Dry Heave”. Schellenberg’s guitar playing provides textural space for the bass along with Sam Neal’s manic drumming by way of never-ending feedback and atonal texture, which creates a sound that feels claustrophobic and pressured.
My favourite moment on this record comes on the track “Pores,” when a stress-inducing saxophone (performed by Eric Roberts) appears in a frantic bridge only for everything to be stripped to the drums for a brief moment before an explosive climax ties everything together.
Complexion is consistent. If not in pace, then for its tense nature. Even its quieter moments, tracks like “Sand” and “Paper,” don’t leave much in terms of peace and calming thanks in part to the eerie feedback that bleeds through these tracks, and much like the rest of the tracks on this album, these moments don’t last long. Through 11 tracks, Complexion runs about 22 minutes, which comes as no surprise for a group known for having very short performances.
Tunic has always been about quality-over-quantity in relation to playing music as opposed to releasing it. Their presence as a band, yet so sporadic, is strongly felt in their hometown and wherever they perform. Just as Complexion is an album that seems very short but is brimming with energy and inspiration.
For fans of: METZ, Pissed Jeans, KEN Mode, Dan Unger
Recommended if you like Winnipeg’s Arena is on Fire on CKUW 95.9 FM