Written by Rob Dyer – music blogger at Dsoaudio music blog.
“Smoke & Mirrors” (Album, 2015) !Recommended!
Alien Six Productions
This latest album from Tenek was three long years in the making. Which, when you listen to the production alone, you can readily believe.
Tenek occupy their own special musical place. There’s hints, echoes and traces of other electronic (and guitar) bands, essentially their heroes, surfacing from time to time. In part one suspects by overt homage, in part subliminal influence. Nevertheless, Tenek have steadily explored and carved out their own niche and it’s one that’s reached the pinnacle of execution.
Looking from the outside, it’s hard to image a more complementary double act. With Geoff Pinckney and Peter Steer about evenly distributing the workload. Both being multi-instrumentalists, and vocalists, both drawing inspiration from similar musical reference points. They seem to be the perfect foil for one another.
The first half of the album feels more dedicated to creating the archetypal Tenek sound, with the lyrical rhyming so typical of their writing, structural pauses, bridges and breaks. I love the first 20 seconds of Fear For Nothing – it sounds like the intro to one of Simple Minds’ funky best, and Another Day we know from the 2013 EP of the same name. The cinematic moody slickness of Blue Man wouldn’t be out of place in Michael Mann’s dark reimagining of Miami Vice.
However, it’s the second half of the album that really sets this apart.
A New Foundation sees Tenek soaring in fine fashion. This is the album version of a song that also first appeared on the preceeding Another Day. I liked it then, I love it now. Sunlight recalls the snappy dance/rock/pop crossover that German outfit Sono regularly achieve. If Tenek could secure a tour support slot with them, the Sono fans should be easily converted (and the merchandise sales for Tenek could be substantial!). Imitation of Life utilises a motoring bass guitar, synth strings, percussion (the programming of which throughout the entire album deserves special acknowledgement) that comes across like a played kit, and a lead vocal line all straight out of the 1980s and yet it never sounds retro, it’s entirely contemporary. Tenek to a T.
Soloman is another outstanding foray into mid-tempo territory, the spot where I’m usually most rewarded by Tenek’s writing. It also happens to showcase a beautifully shimmering six-note melody the likes of which any artist would give their right arm to have laid claim to. The titular Smoke & Mirrors closes proceedings with backing elements that instantly recall Depeche Mode, but this isn’t lazy mimicry, rather the ideal send off to what has been a journey packed with richness, light and darkness, inspiration and reflection.
Could Smoke & Mirrors be the best thing Tenek have ever released? You bet it is. 8/10
Rob Dyer (January 2016)
To read past reviews of tenek, click HERE