Dan Turnbull is better known to his fans as Funke And The Two Tone Baby. Funke released his latest EP ‘The Last Thing We Will See Is The Sea’ in June 2014. This was Funke’s first release since his debut album ‘Battles’ a year previously. The disc features four tracks, ‘The Great Storm’, ‘Never Used To Dance’, ‘Wasting My Love’ and ‘Darkest Of Days’. It says much about the quality of Funke’s output that the EP’s lead track featured on Tom Robinson’s BBC6 introducing and his Easter playlist.
The Ep features Dan playing guitar, harmonica, beatbox, stomp box and vocals, in other words he does it all, well he does have a little support with drumming from Steve Moore. Anyone who is at all familiar with Funke and The Two Tone Baby will be aware of the quality of his live performances. Frankly they have to be seen to be believed but for the uninitiated I will give a brief summary. Funke’s broad genre can really only be described as experimental Blues tinged Americana. Live he uses loops to add layers to his performance. The loops are a mix of guitar, harmonica, beatbox and vocal, recorded live on stage and used to add a creative depth to his performance. In an odd way I guess Funke is a modern twist on the one man band.
I couldn’t wait to hear how it would translate to the recorded medium. Put simply it translates magnificently. I confess I had high expectations, I had seen Funke perform five or six times over the course of this year, but nothing prepared me for what I heard. It is almost beyond belief that one person can create such a big sound on his own. Funke sounds like a full blown five piece blues rock band all by himself. It is simply incredible stuff.
So what of the songs? Well without exception they are well written and beautifully produced. Lead track, ‘The great Storm’ is a riff driven blues telling the story of a storm as it rises and finally explode, but let me tell you brother, it ain’t about the weather. As with any great blues it’s about emotion and relationships, as the song builds you can feel the tension rise, its a dramatic song building to a massive crescendo before a short bridge takes the level down to a period of relative calm, the eye of the storm. The level rises again as the storm passes, the song ends and Funke leaves you to deal with the devastation that is left in its wake.
‘Never used to Dance’ begins with a thumping Bass and a layer of beatbox, the guitar comes in playing a little two bar riff and then the vocal arrives with Funke urging you to ‘raise your hands in the air and put your feet through the floor, shake the world and watch the ceiling fall’. Doubtless A metaphor perhaps indicative of the turmoil across the world, perhaps indicative of some inner turmoil. It doesn’t matter the pint is that it gets you considering turmoil and what it means to you, I suspect that is the point, it is allegorical and interpretation is left to the listener.
‘Wasting my Love’ is probably my favourite song of the four, it opens with a BB King style blues riff, additional layers are added until the vocal comes in, “If lust is your sin of choice, then wrath is my vice and its louder than your voice”! Wow! Funke goes on “you tell me to show some pride, yet you act so obscene, in this world of contradictions you are queen”, “I spend all this time wasting my love on you”. Brilliant stuff by Funke, emotions laid bare, anger on show, pain apparent, a simply brilliant blues.
The EP finishes with another big song, ‘Darkest of Days’ opens with a soulful harmonica piece backed by a bass beat, it builds slowly layer on layer both vocally and musically, “I see the storm clouds rolling over me” until Funke repeats over and over “You won’t go away, these are the darkest of days”. Its dramatic, its absorbing and as it slowly builds to its climax you feel it right down in your gut, your heart rate rises and then BOOM! all too soon its over leaving you reeling in its wake wondering what has just hit you.
The only criticism I have of Funke’s EP is that you want it to go on and on, it leaves you cast adrift in the storm, gasping for air, battered and bruised, reeling. It is a quite incredible piece of work that leaves you crying out for more, had there been another 10 tracks and 60 minutes of music it would still seem too short and you would still be on your knees begging for more! If you don’t own it buy it now, right now, click this link and spend the measly £5 it will cost to own a masterpiece. While you are there buy Funke’s live album too