Holding on to more than something…
Within the ranks of the electronic music genre, Tenek occupy the top tiers; the notable professionalism lies in the obvious quality of production that is common to all of their works. It’s an attribute that contributes heavily to setting them truly apart from the many, in all of their artistic endeavors.
2020 undoubtedly brings them another chance to shine, with the re-release of their second EP, EP2. Originally released on the Toffeetones label back in 2011, it features four signature tracks from their popular back-catalogue. Add to that two radio edits and a sneaky, never heard before, bonus track. You’ll have to go to Tenek’s Bandcamp store to get hold of the bonus, however, without giving too much away, it provides for the opportunity to hear ‘Elusive’ in its alter-ego development form, with some aspects of the track very far removed from what fans will be familiar with. An unexpected twist.
Since Tenek debuted in 2007, the electronica duo (aka Geoff Pinckney and Peter Steer) has toured three well-received albums, internationally, as well as closer to home – their fanbase extending as far as Russia – as well as 10 singles/EPs. They’ve appeared live at all the electronic music events worth talking about, showcasing their commercial sounding angle, minus the usual clichés, steering themselves level with some of the most popular, high charting and distinctive synth pop acts of the previous decades, while holding onto the contemporary.
Their music exhibits a very living and developing presence, conceived to fundamental and imaginative vision. The stylistic elements that no doubt furnish them with their popularity and credibility as recording artists, live performers and as an elite production unit, have a trademark continuity; their releases are consistent and dare to push beyond the boundaries often associated with other acts striving for commercially acceptable templates.
Opener ‘What Do You Want’ demonstrates this entirely. Featuring virtuoso Chris Payne on violin – Chris collaborated with Visage, co-writing their biggest and most memorable hit ‘Fade to Grey’, alongside Ultravox’s Midge Ure and Billy Currie, and previously featured in Gary Numan’s touring band.
As is fairly typical of much of Tenek’s work, the track is rich in contrapuntal texture, which makes for great listening experience because you’ll always hear something you didn’t hear before. Here, the subtle layering of violin phrases assigns the track a very distinctive personality and one of much class. The backdrop is settled and provides the framework for all the emotional additives present in the song. A strong sing-along vocal melody sits alongside strings that provide subtle and emotional answers to the songs internal questioning, making for a web of glorious melodic placement. The weaves are intricate yet can connect with the listener instantaneously. The music is enhanced with unique blends of synths, strings, and brief passages of arpeggiated guitar – all taking on subtle yet prominent courses. It becomes quite decorative once the lively fluttery strings lead the way to the outro.
Contrast comes in the form of ‘Elusive’ – arguably another one of Tenek’s best tracks – a powerful live favourite. It has a vintage synth-pop vibe to it, while also sounding very current. It is completely packaged around its high-octane robotic space-age embellishments, all of which are complemented by an uplifting percussive zest – save a break mid-way that drops to unaccompanied spacey polished synths. And all before the crashing beat returns to dramatic effect. Tuneful bleep motifs and zappy robotic shots, all sequential in nature, create a high energy outing, elaborated further with every reverberated layer that gives itself to lashings of light and shade style atmosphere. It upholds a happy-go-lucky nature and a definite jollity. And not least, it has those addictive tuneful hooks that naturally emerge from its huge chorus.
For something completely different ‘The Art of Evasion’ offers up expansive contemporary sounding freedom. It has a quietly contemplating nature. This time the electronic setting is more subtle and displays its own resonant spacious qualities with an element of purity. ‘Higher Ground’ has a straightforward harder edged pop blend, with a powerful statement bassline, guitars that offer rhythmic punctuation as well as subtle arpeggiated lines, and breakout points featuring harmonics set against electronic fabric. The chorus is explosive with brightly edged synths. All elements blend to create a multitude of dynamic presence that is very radiant.
In terms of creativity, no stone is left unturned. From experimentation with aesthetic synthesizers, to energetic and stylistic beats. An array of guitar sounds, specialist blends of classical instrumentation, harmonics, plus distinctive and memorable vocal melodies, all set around mood boards that shift between uplifting, emotional and the reflective, in a surround of lively space.
Tenek have toured with the likes of Gary Numan, Republica, The Human League and A Flock of Seagulls and there’s a longevity in the song writing that should see them occupying a more dominant position on those top tiers in the coming months. Both Geoff Pinckney and Peter Steer continue to be fully active, adding their unique talents to a number of on-going projects.
With regards the production elements – these are of a precise nature and there’s lots of fine tuning within the songs, however, it never, ever sounds overdone. Instead, it’s a seamless and clever blend of every fine detail that weaves itself into the framework of their compositions – with undeniable stability. And while this consistent nature is very true of the recordings, as a live act, they’re a well-presented duo on stage, with the kind of presence that has never failed to work up their energetic audiences. They have something to offer on every level.
EP2 is released 4th September.