Tanuki Project is much less a “new artist” than an undiscovered gem from Canada who’s been producing innovative music and touring with increasingly complex audio-visual shows since 2009. It’s actually criminal they haven’t had more interest yet, as the quality both of production and performance rivals the likes of Bjork, Massive Attack, Phantogram and modern-era Kraftwerk, to name a few. That seems about to change, however, with the release of the first two chapters from their new EP series, Adamant.
Adamant Chapter#01 released back in June and its lead track “Dystopia” has garnered the duo nearly 200k streams on Spotify, so it seems someone is indeed noticing them. It seems with this project, Tanuki project have really honed their style musically, striking a balance of hip hop and drone structure with ambient and experimental sound design and layered, nuanced melodies from programmer Legyl’s synths and vocalist Nady’s lyrics. There’s something sophisticated about the way this project was produced thus far that will likely make it appeal to a wide range of fans.
It’s not to say that previous releases by Tanuki Project weren’t sophisticated as well. It’s clear from releases like 2019’s “Happening” single, where Nady channels her inner Nina Hagen, and 2015’s UKG-and-soundsystem-inspired EP, the aptly named Soundsystem that the pair approach their composition with a healthy love of experimental music theory and likely a classical-style libretto to hand. “Experimental” is the key term here, however, as it seems with those releases and their many others prior to Adamant, Legyl and Nady were still very much in their wild west phase sound-wise. It was wild, interesting and passionate to be sure, but it seems with Adamant, they’ve screwed down some of the loose nuts and bolts to make something a bit more grounded. Almost.
While Adamant Chapter#01 is melodic, orchestral and conjures feelings of early trip hop (for lack of a better comparison), Chapter#02, released just this past weekend, brings back that wilder, experimental style of previous Tanuki Project releases. Depending more on drone and a sound design template that sounds almost industrial, the title track opens the EP sounding desolate and minimal before the staff is filled with space-inspired ambient work, classical piano and a distant and haunting vocal melody from Nady. Think Krafterk meets Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” “Mountain” is even more drone-driven and industrial bringing a real techno beat into the middle of the track, making it the most danceable of the Adamant project thus far. That is, until it gets to closing track, the fun, ultra-ravey and trap-grounded “Question.”
It would seem both installments of Adamant are almost too short, clearly leaving the listener wanting more, but there’s so much to unpack sonically, most fans probably wont complain. These are the types of tracks one can listen to hundreds of times and still hear something new on each listen. They’re dense, emotive and endlessly complex. And we haven’t even talked about the visuals yet.
Despite being all electronic, Tanuki Project is meant to be a touring project, with loads of visuals lighting up the stage both in the background and the 3D foreground. They’ve gotten more and more complex over the years, reaching a sort of apotheosis as the duo began traveling with an A/V expert to debut Adamant right before COVID hit. Touring and travel in general have been very limited in Canada, so while they still have their A/V show locked and loaded, they’ve decided to shift focus for the time being to videos.
The first video is for the single “Slow” off Adamant Chapter#01 released in mid-November and was directed by international commercial director whose passion is experimental videos, Thomas Castaing. The video puts an emotional visual point on the message of the song: the sense of isolation and loss that can come from so many places but which we all felt and still feel during COVID. It’s also a call to appreciate life and humanness, even when humanity feels completely mad. There is still great love here, both song and video seem to say, and the story hasn’t ended; it’s just slowed down.
With the goosebump-inducing “Slow” video pairing, one could say it’s definitely a good thing that Tanuki Project is opting to add cinematic-style videos to their A/V repertoire. With more videos planned for Adamant Chapter#02 and beyond, it’s clear the duo can translate the feelings from their shows to personal screens and have a similar impact. While no one quite knows the future at the moment, artists like Tanuki Project are forging ahead to give both music and film fans more hope and beauty so that maybe we can come to appreciate this slowed-down story, or at the very least the art created and contained within it. To quote the duo themselves:
Head-up, soul wide, gliding across the plain. Present Senses searching. Watching, breathing, hearing, Bare feet feeling the earth, Heart rooted in nature. Life nasty, brutish and short. But at least aware, at least alive, at least here.
Both chapters of Adamant are out now and can be streamed on Spotify. Check out Tanuki Project’s YouTube channel to see clips from their previous shows. Their wider catalog can be streamed or purchased on Bandcamp.