U.K.-based collective Tunng formed in 2003 when core members Mike Lindsay and Sam Genders began weaving samples of film dialogue and other found sounds into their songs. They honed their approach over the course of several beautiful albums, always moving between staid traditional British folk trappings and more curious experimental electronics. Though various lineups would make new Tunng material under the Lindsay's guidance, Genders bowed out after 2007's Good Arrows, more focused on family life than life on the road or in the studio. Songs You Make at Night sees Lindsay and Genders reunited for the first time in over a decade, bringing along the rest of the original Tunng crew in a return to the watery, surreal tonalities of their earliest output. The album succeeds in cultivating the same dreamlike atmosphere that marks the band's best work, but moves forward to achieve this rather than returning to tested formulas. In their earliest days, Tunng were often branded as the folksier U.K. counterpart to contemporaries like the Beta Band and the Books. Still ornamented with carefully selected samples and floating sound snippets, Songs You Make at Night tosses off much of the band's acoustic roots, replacing them with rubbery synth basslines, electronic beats, and haunting passages of Fender Rhodes and nylon-string guitar. All of these elements are in the forefront on standout track "ABOP," where walls of vocal harmonies melt in and out of electronic grooves and classical guitar processed until it sounds like a harp. A collision of electronics, acoustic instruments, and disjointed samples has long defined Tunng's sound, but here the electronics are colder and more in focus than before. The eerie "Flatland" is built around a synthetic bassline that calls to mind the same tones as early acid tracks and anchors the song's two extremes of reserved songcraft and feral samples. The collaborative writing sounds inspired, the reunited creative powers bringing out the best in each other. Excellent songs like "Sleepwalking" see Genders, Lindsay, and crew pushing each other to new and exciting places, moving confidently through bounding synth pop rhythms and staggered, playful song structures. Exploring both their known, time-honored chemistry and new inspirations, the vibe that stretches across Songs You Make at Night feels positive and renewed. Always caught in a dream, this is one of the brighter and more hopeful dreamscapes in the Tunng catalog.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas