Tussle took a break after releasing the ambitious Cream Cuts, but they found inspiration in their time off. Contributing the song "Soft Crush" to the 2009 comp Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics, the band applied that track's simpler approach to their fourth album, Tempest. While these songs are certainly more stripped-down than any of the band's previous work, and especially when compared to Cream Cuts' dense pile-ons, in its own way Tempest furthers the concept of organic-sounding dance music they developed on their last album.
Shamelessly infatuated with Cologne geniuses, Kingston greats, and New York cult heroes, Tussle have never had a wholly unique sound. But they've definitely had a signature style. Taking off from dub's radical reduction of reggae to bass and noise, post-punk's DIY appropriation of funk, and krautrock's hairy perversions of academic electronics, Tussle's minimalist beat contraptions were take-it-or-leave-it stark, and occasionally indistinguishable.
Described in broad terms Tussle's fourth album, Tempest, is built nearly identically to the three full lengths that come before it. The formula is simple: Its runtime is dominated by long groove-oriented instrumentals. The band's jigsaw-tight rhythm section provides the backbone of each track and a diachronic array of electronic ornamentation flesh out the body.
Change is good. The first three albums by Tussle established the San Francisco band as a mainstay in dance rock, with their post-punk and Krautrock influences propelling their polyrhythmic beats into the stratosphere. With their fourth album, "hybridity" is no longer a primary descriptor of their sound. Tempest sees Tussle present themselves as a pure electronic act, managing to pack more rave into one album than Klaxons could muster in their entire catalogue.