[Running Back; 2011]

The internet has pretty much eroded the mystique musicians once had in their anonymity completely away, but as we’re more than a decade into the fold of the word wide web, the current pre-internet nostalgia trip has tried to go as far as to recreate a time when you couldn’t type a band you’d heard offhand into Google and find out each of the member’s middle names and what they had for lunch. There was a time when the only exposure you had of a group was one song off a compilation with shoddy industrial cover art from a label that got shut down three months ago. For all you knew the band didn’t actually exist. It was as if the sounds had just wondered into a studio uninvited and the mics happened to be on. There was a disconnect between the music you heard and who/what created it – an almost magical faceless quality as if it had just appeared from the either.

It’s not surprising in the current state of things that groups are trying to contrive this shroud of facelessness around them for nostalgia’s sake. Witch house groups last year made the self-destructive move of naming themselves in order to make it difficult to get accurate results when plugging their names into a search engine. That’s one way. Most recently, WU LYF took the antagonistic punk route – the only photo of them for a while being a group of kids with their faces covered by t-shirts. Tiger & Woods, on the other hand, simply let the music drift out. While the duo has since broken their silence, mostly due to the internet’s need to uncover everything, Tiger & Woods are vocally gleeful about their status as an unknown, citing the very music they center on in their edits for inspiration, which makes the whole notion border on some cyclical meta clusterfuck. But I’d be lying if I said the move didn’t work to some extent. Through The Green, the duo’s debut album, does feel anonymous and free from human intervention, making the material here stand all the more starkly, which is integral to T&W’s music.

For the most part, the duo’s edits are steeped in 80s disco-boogie, but more often than not they trudge into a house-sampling-disco realm, giving the steady BPMs – which barely jump over 120 – a patient build and release. The tracks rarely score below the 7-minute mark, yet they never overstay their welcome. The one-measure loops hinge on partially chopped vocals, and the duo arranges them for travel rather than immediacy. There’s a deft arrangement at play as Tiger & Woods often seem to show their hand in how these edits are built, and when they stumble upon a more cathartic centerpiece, the path there carries some felt impact. “KissMeTellMe” works around a quick two-note bass and piano loop, slowly building the track with repeated vocal samples. The center loop exchanges for a fingers-in-the-air disco synth before pulling it away again, teasing what’s to come when the things ultimately find release. When it finally gets there, bursting out of EQ-axed bass and sparkling, dying nova synths, adding the titular vocal for good measure, you realize the first three minutes of the song have just been an intro of sorts.

Through The Green employs a female vocalist on a couple of the later tracks, and without a specific note of her presence the vocals – which do well to recall the starkness of 90s R&B – fall into the compositions masterfully. As her appearance falls on top of songs upwards from eight-minutes, the vocals show up in little bursts of pop flair before Tiger & Woods set off into a longform helping of layered samples for minutes at a time before they return. They work for variety’s sake, and blend too well with the rest of the record to ever lament their disappearance. Simply more texture than centerpiece.

Aesthetically, Tiger & Woods favor the type of mid-range squelch that DFA would be proud of, and while the amount of loops and layers shoved into a song can get dizzying, there’s an undeniable consistency to the sound and production (and arrangement). The fascination with the material at play creates a removed cohesion – the distance between the loops and how they’re arranged is where Tiger & Woods exist and that aspect of their sound is palpable. Things never get to the chopped up transformative power of, say, The Field, but on tracks like “Gin Nation,” which splice together four different samples to create a new melody, they come close. Yet on the same track, Tiger & Woods show they’re willing to let a few measures of a vocal they love do its thing. Sure they’ve recontextualized it into a crescendo – these are still edits after all, falling somewhere between a mix and straight-up original composition (close enough to the latter to be an almost moot point, to be fair) – but it becomes clear that Tiger & Woods do what they do to highlight those moments they hold dear in celebratory climax rather than simply playing crowd pleaser.