Chris Tenz’ new album Nails Through Bird Feet has been brewing for about four years, during which time he has pulled in the talents of friends including Machinefabrik and Fieldhead for assistance. Songs, but with an ambience conscious approach. Released as an LP and a 7” and a tape(!) on the remarkably named slowwank label.
9/10 Clinton Staff review, 09 November 2015
We all know that the world moves far too fast. We flick from thing to thing at the click of the sort of button we struggle to control. 'Nails Through Bird Feet' however confirms that some of the best music comes from taking your time and Chris Tenz has spent the best part of four years constructing his epic music. Listening to it is an experience you'll need to take your own time over. Don't just dismiss it at the swipe of a button. Put the needle on the record and spend an evening with it and this record will reward you so much more than a Facebook cat like.
Tenz has moved on rather spectactularly from his earlier work on Mini 50 records, his previous charming brand of lo-fi is and the occasional electronics is here expanded into a grand sweep of a record which is as wide and foreboding as the bleak Canada landscape from which he emanates. It is as chilling as anything on Constellation and as wrenching as any Mount Eerie record.
Like many artists worth investigating, Tenz can't help but being self sabotaging (here it's the record label name, the naked press shots, the title of the opening track) but once the needle is put on the record this glorious mixture of neo-classical composition and grainy, icy folk completely disarms. It has a sleepy, half-remembered feel as if Tenz has woken from a dream and started recording to the nearest tape.
Opener 'Cunty' (what did I tell you about self-sabotage?) marks out the territory Tenz wishes to explore with a series of gently undulating tones before his intricately picked acoustic guitar meshes with perfectly gorgeous cello notes and a cracked, disturbed vocal sitting just under the surface. On 'Nails Through Bird Feet Parts One and Two' the sound is at near silence, Tenz quietly picking away totally unamplified. This is perfect late night listening, Tenz knows you can't disturb the neighbours either so it's quietness is almost unnerving and creates a glorious atmosphere that could never ready you for the noise that follows which is quietly loud if such a thing were possible - the shift in dynamics perfect.. Accordions dominate on the heart wrenching 'Bethnal Green Cellar' particularly once they are joined by a tiny fractured vocal. Moving on, the closing lengthy 'Nails Through Bird Feet Part Three' builds from layers of textured ambience to a chorused chanting crescendo which is the closest Tenz gets to Godspeed's big, big music with splashing cymbals, a yearning, wracked vocal and the same kind of anguish as Matt Elliott's eerie folk.
A superb collection, this is a record for the winter. Let it engulf you by a warm fire and by return it will lead you to quiet unease and soothing disquiet.
Postscript: If the original perfectly structured album is not enough for you, it also comes with a bonus 7".
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- Nails Through Bird Feet by Chris Tenz
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