The last decade has seen Tantale develop their ‘ambient grunge’ sound across three full albums (and an early EP) to become a band with a formidable reputation both on record and on stage – their debut album launch show at The Fermain Tavern in 2012 has long remained a much talked about stand out event at the venue.
To mark their tenth birthday as a band the four piece (Steve Labern – vocals and guitar, Louis Le Couteur – guitar, Matt Smart – bass, Graham Duerden – drums) put on a show at St James Concert Hall as part the St James Presents… series in November 2019 with the grand ambition of recording the whole thing for a live album and concert film featuring extra musicians and dancers aiming for what they described as ‘a strange, Warholesque, New York loft party’.
Having missed the event itself I can’t testify to how successfully it achieved that lofty aim (I was busy avoiding terrorist attacks and seeing Tiger Army in London) however now the live album, released under the name One Moment, is out I can get an idea of musical side of things and based off this it was a great night.
After the obligatory live album burst of crowd noise things get going in atmospheric fashion as Dark Water Science eases us into proceedings with a range of instrumentation and absorbing sound.
From there, over the course of the better part of an hour, Tantale lead us through their ten years together in a way that gradually builds to a satisfying crescendo.
It being a live album of course one big question hangs over it… does it capture the feel of the show even for someone who wasn’t there?
Thankfully I would say, as much as I can tell, that it does.
I honestly can’t remember a live album being made on this scale in Guernsey before so I was sceptical as to how well it could and would be done but the team from Guernsey Gigs, along with the band, have done a great job.
The whole thing has an impressively honest and live feel, so you can hear the odd slip here and there, but they make it work as a live record while the inclusion of extra musicians with the band to add that extra something they have on record and, in the live context, it really helps to elevate the songs throughout.
It also exposes something different about the band, as live records often do, in this case it’s in a positive way, as their musical control (that I’ll admit sometimes frustrates me in person, being a fan of raw energy) really stands out and is very impressive and testament to their collective skills.
While many of the tracks feature guests a few moments stand out, from the extra vocals from Poppy Mathews on Lungs (and throughout) things build to an almost drum off on Wash Her In Wasps between Graham and The Recks’ and Lifejacket’s Moxie that leans on the right side of the sometimes dangerously self indulgent drum solo – in fact for my money they could have taken this further than they did and more than got away with it.
Knot What probably provides the sets most utterly engrossing moments before In The Heart really brings the larger ensemble to the fore again with Nerine Ozanne’s piano and keyboard added to the mix along with Matthews’ vocals and making it a stand out.
Then the siren that signals Coming Home (a favourite since the band’s earliest days) emerge and signal a big rocker to close the show which, after the ambient, atmospheric sounds that precede it, comes on like a loose, cathartic blast custom made to get the crowd going off (and I hope they did on the night) as things end in a cathartic climax.
If I had one criticism of the record it would be that it doesn’t quite allow enough space for the songs to breathe with the crowd responses and gaps between songs feeling slightly too truncated, but this is really a minor quibble and doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the album.
One Moment then is another great full length from a band with an already formidable reputation for them. It not only captures Tantale’s live essence but acts as a fine celebration of a band who’ve done that surprisingly rare thing of lasting a decade with not just the same line up but having maintained a regular presence throughout that time while also proving that, whether you were there or not, there’s a lot to gain from giving this a listen.