Album Reviews

Matt Christensen & P.M. Tummala: Yellow Works

The Chicago experimentalists combine for their debut collaboration LP.

Last year, Chicago-based experimentalist, P.M. Tummala, stole our hearts with his second album, Abstractions in Meera. A multi-faceted exploration inspired by Indian Modernist sound collages, since its release Tummala has played live on keys with fellow Chicago natives, Zelienople, in support of their 2020 hallmark release, Hold You Up.

A long-time friend of the band, Tummala and Zelienople signer, Matt Christensen, took it one step further, exchanging creative ideas which has resulted in Yellow Works: their debut collaboration LP, via the forward-thinking indie label, Monastral.

Through their respective solo projects, Christensen and Tummala create the kind of emotional soundwaves that act as a chemical rush through the consciousness.

Let’s Breathe Again: 2022 with Matt Christensen so far

Employing synthesisers and Fender Rhodes electric pianos, Christensen and Tummala create a different kind of atmospheres that we are used to hearing from either of them. The kind of ideas that attempt to stitch together memories of the past with the present.  

Starting with Yellow 1. A slow-motion glide through space, while Christensen has taken us to into similar places via his bourgeoning solo catalogue of experimental-based works, here he guides Tummala into a new world and together they thrive.

Matt Christensen & P.M. Tummala - Yellow Works

With Yellow 2 and Yellow 3, we are met with sounds that create the imagery of a damp Sunday morning, staring absent-minded out the window as the rain falls. A snapshot of beauty being found in simplicity, no doubt.

The textures that underpin Yellow 4 are seemingly inspired by the giants of deep-listening. With its atmospheric charm, this is the kind of track that is best captured with a pair of headphones.

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Meanwhile, Yellow 5 is a cinematic lullaby akin to seeing the sun emerge from the storm clouds. And once met with those blue skies, Yellow 6 sees Christensen and Tummala loosen up a little with a hypnotic krautrock-inspired piece that splices together the ideas both artists have harnessed throughout their respective solo endeavours.

Weighed down by a damp blanket of drone, Yellow 7 takes its cues from the Kranky stable. In many ways it encapsulates the blowy wintry streets of Chicago. A place both artists are heavily inspired by and together they conjure up a vivid picture.

It’s a telling piece, as Yellow Works could be considered a representation of locality through sound. We are often met with this via song, whether it be an artist’s vernacular, the themes in which they offer, or merely how an artist carries themselves. Very rarely do we associate locality through sonic representation, but on Yellow Works, while Christensen and Tummala carve out their own world, they’ve achieved this by remaining firmly within the confines of familiar space. The past and present, united as one.

Yellow Works is out now via Monastral. Purchase from Bandcamp.

By Simon Kirk

Product from the happy generation. Proud purple bin owner surviving on music, books and LFC. New book, Welcome To Charmsville, available from all major vendors.

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