Tuning, the latest album by Halifax band Mauno, explores the emotional connections we form through music, relationships, and everyday experiences. Inspired by “The Soundscape”, a book written by musicologist R. Murray Schafer about our sonic environments and listening to the little things in our everyday lives, Tuning takes the theories discussed in the book and applies them to the bands’ own personal experiences and relationships. Theories on sonic environments and their effects on the human psyche not your thing? Fear not, Tuning takes a light-hearted approach while delivering a pop-rock album full of catchy riffs, solid melodies, and light-hearted lyrics.
Before we go too far into the nitty-gritty of what makes this album work (and sometimes not work), let’s remember that there’s a difference between the inspiration behind a work of music and the actual content of it. Doing a concept album of any form usually requires a careful balance between the two; you want the inspiration and overall theme to be reflected in each tune but without dulling the meaning or effect behind it.
Tuning is a good example of a band walking this fine line for the first time. The album follows the theme outlined in “The Soundscape” and explores different sounds throughout the album, which is bang on with the theme inspired by the book.
The first track (and possibly best), titled ‘Or Just,’ is a perfect glimpse into what to expect from the rest of the album. Featuring a slower start that eventually builds up to a full rock song with Thom Yorke-esque melodies, this track leaves a loud metaphorical bang that can be heard echoing in the rest of the album.
The desire to explore so many different sounds in one album and mix it in with common themes of love lost, desire, and relationships is the backbone of Tuning, but unfortunately it’s also one of its few downsides. The mix of quick synth and soft rock instrumentals (3 in total all under 1:30 each) with the almost random/sudden change in song structure, makes it a bit much to process for only being a little over 27 minutes in length.
Many of the tracks blend together, which I’m always a fan of, but one could argue that there should be a couple song breaks. At least to help distinguish the sometimes-sudden change in tone and style from one song to the next.
The album does deliver some solid tracks.‘Other Bad’ is 2:45 of a basic catchy beat with beautiful casual vocals, and ‘Helah’, sharing the similarities and strengths of the first track’s build-up, offers a perfect wrap-up ending to the album.
Overall, the album is worth a listen. Tuning is a good example of a modern pop-rock band pushing the boundaries of creativity and structure within the norms.