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That Fucking Tank
Tanknology Noel Gardner , July 20th, 2009 13:43

While my own experience informs me that it's no easy feat advertising their performances – or at least to get the prissier shops to put up a poster with their uncensored name on – That Fucking Tank are a band you really have to see live. The audience gathers into a tight huddle, and the two gentlemen of the band play accordingly. At least one may wear underpants alone. They are a loud model of efficiency in rock music and are mindful of its performative aspect without having to mug for their crowd's attention. They have acted this out through DIY, anti-commercial channels, and presumably always will, because they uphold principles, and are surrounded (especially in their Leeds homestead) by like minds.

Initially (around 2004), the idea was that they were something to experience live and live alone: when they did release physical product, a 25-minute mini-album, it was a live recording pointedly named A Document Of The First Set. Thereafter, they reverted to a sort of type as regards the British DIY barracks, by putting out a healthy stream of vinyl and a full-length, Day Of Death By Bono Adrenalin Shock. It was mostly good – not a high-water mark for any of the hazily-separated genres they toiled within, but definitely good – yet the charm factor of That Fucking Tank came as much from the wit threaded through their aesthetic as from the rockingness of their actual songs. Theirs is an unapologetically private humour full of in-jokes (like, presumably, the aforementioned album title) and laboured puns, which are destined to either annoy the shit out of you or lead you to recognize a shared spirit.

If you're of the latter persuasion, and happen to also like minimal, wordless rock music draped on unconventional frames, the thickly painted canvas of TFT will no doubt appeal. Tanknology, their second album proper, carries a concept: where Andy Abbott (baritone guitar) and James Islip (drums) hear an unlikely sonic similarity (i.e. of a band that aren't 90s math-rock or 70s prog) in their work the song is titled accordingly. The results read like potential internet messageboard usernames. To the layman's ears, the purported influence is evident twice: 'John Faheyshanu' is a brief diversion into tricksy, American-plains folk guitar and 'Bruce Springstonehenge' is pretty much an instrumental cover of 'Dancing In The Dark'. Elsewhere, 'Keanu Reef' sounds less like Somerset's peddlers of Pepsi Max blues-rock and more like Oxes, while also being Tanknology's best track; 'Dave Grolsch' intersects itchy clusters of building guitar with bellyflopping riff payoff in a way that does not call to mind the Foo Fighters. 'Stephen Hawkwind' spends a notable portion of its eight-and-a-bit minutes playing the riff from 'Aerodynamic' by Daft Punk, which is at least comparably indulgent.

That Fucking Tank play a style of music that the ill-informed often consider to be dry and humourless. Literally five minutes of investigation into Don Caballero or King Crimson (who TFT covered some years back) will reveal this to be quite wrong; their stern, serious side is used to hone their music to a fine, gleaming point, all the better to transmit their absurdism. Whether as rockers' or comedians, they riff hard and light a beacon for British do-it-yourself culture.

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