Originally released in 2007, Tan-Tan Therapy was the first recorded collaboration between prolific and curious Japanese duo Tenniscoats and Swedish experimentalists Tape. Though Tenniscoats' sound had quickly moved from the straightforward indie pop of their earliest releases to a more subdued chamber folk approach, Tan-Tan Therapy created a gentle language of its own, with contributions from Tape and other guest musicians adding sophistication to the arrangements and enhancing both the album's moments of austere acoustic tunes and more free-ranging improvisations with subtle psychedelic undercurrents. Tan-Tan Therapy begins with a song that embodies all of its strengths, the soft and playful "Baibaba Bimba." Over fingerpicked acoustic guitar figures, the song's simple and cheery melody guides the tune as a complex instrumentation builds. Deep in the mix, percussive vocal sounds serve as a strange type of rhythmic timekeeping, and slowly melodica, brass instruments, and double bass all join in, cresting and receding as the song takes on a mysterious, anthemic form. The eight pieces that make up the album swing from the eerie formlessness of "Marui Hito (Everyone)" to the jaunty marching quality of "Umbarepa!" to the somber lamenting of "Rolling Train," but all fold together for an overall feel that's restrained and autumnal. The group communication between Tenniscoats, Tape, and the other additional musicians is thoughtful to an almost uncanny degree, with each sound delivered in a way so understated that there's plenty of room to sense every dynamic change, feel every swell of unexpected emotion, and notice the introduction of each new sound, with quiet bells, experimental electronics, spare piano, and a host of other instruments always floating in and out of the mix as the album drifts by. Tenniscoats and Tape would rekindle their creative chemistry on 2012's Papa's Ear, again finding the unbusy beauty and carefully crafted sweetness that shines through so clearly throughout Tan-Tan Therapy.
Tan-Tan Therapy Review
by Fred Thomas