For several years, Tunnels has been the moniker for the solo output of Nicholas Bindeman. Over time Bindeman’s sound has evolved from the slow, breathing landscapes of his earlier ambient/drone releases (Colour Seance, Vexations) to completely fried-out bedroom psych explorations (Astral Collage, In Between Dreams). Throughout these releases he has been committed to an expanding array of music based on sounds invoked from a wide open, psychedelic dream state more akin to Angus Maclise. Rarely has he adhered to any formal song structure, as is also evident with his role in bands Eternal Tapestry and Jackie-O Motherfucker.
In the spring of 2008, Bindeman began playing live sets singing over a four track recorder. His initial output, like a dirtier, playful Suicide, with backing tracks acting as vehicles for live exploration. Bindeman would often go into a frenzied state, mumbling and slurring through slapdash songs. These performances gradually evolved into more cohesive and clean music and recording became the focus of the project, writing material through the recording process and eventually falling victim to the lure of pop.
The Blackout delves into a world of sound unheard of on any prior Tunnels release as Bindeman steps away from the heady guitar wizardry of Eternal Tapestry to craft a pulsing and dark record steeped in cold dread with a pop sheen. Bass lines, often the centerpiece of the song, play alongside glistening, glass slipper synths and jagged guitars, seeping like silver lined shadows into disaffected vocal incantations. Drawing on a disparate palate of sounds from various facets of electronic music, his version of a new cold wave is a sound both novel and infectious. Taking after synth pop pioneers such as Charles de Goal and Crash Course in Science, with a hint of Throbbing Gristle, The Blackout still manages to resonate with the new. Many songs revolve around sampled sources which Bindeman then collages together to create the framework for any given piece. For example, opener "Crystal Arms" draws its slightly off kilter pulse from a Laurie Anderson performance in which she sports a pair of contact mic'd sun glasses which pick up the vibrations of her fists pounding on her skull. With these fractured and psychedelic tones, Tunnels join the ranks of Silk Flowers, Gary War, and others that call labels like Not Not Fun and Sacred Bones home, all the while taking shards of the dark ‘80s pop sound reminiscent of Gary Numan and The Cure, and reconfiguring them for the underground.
How I Hate You