Although I'd heard good things about the group Drums And Tuba for a fair amount of time, I didn't really pay much attention to them for some reason. I guess I thought that by name alone, Drums And Tuba sounded like a cheap novelty, mixing an instrument that usually doesn't find itself anywhere other than high school band and swing dances with some funky drummer. For some reason, I figured it would be an avant garde mess of honking and clacking, and went about my merry way.
Eventually, though, I decided that I couldn't ignore the group any longer. It wasn't the fact that Ani Difranco signed them to her label or that their newest album has nice cover art (sometimes a larger swaying force than I'd like to admit), but after previewing a couple tracks on Vinyl Killer, I decided to give it a fair shake. I may not be the best judge, since I haven't heard either of the two albums previous to this one, but damned if they don't rock in their own way and slightly shuffle the whole post rock/instrumental music genre sideways a bit with a touch of the big horn. Also, the band name of "Drums and Tuba" is slightly misleading, as the group also incorporates trumpet, trombone, guitars, and a touch of electronics into the mix.
While the album isn't constantly amazing, I have to give the group a lot of credit for keeping the listener on their toes. Instead of being content to work a couple ideas into the ground, but like other interesting trios, the group throws out quite a few tricks out to keep things fresh. The album blasts out of the gates with "The Diagram," and although it runs a slight bit long, the layered horn riffs punch out nicely alongside the frantic drumming, kicking things off in an energetic fashion. "The Donkey And The Walrus" works a funkier groove, tweaking out the horn sounds into something almost alien while the tuba and drums chug out a rhythm underneath.
After a trio of interesting but not outstanding tracks (including the stutter-stepping "Royronus"), the group drops one of the best tracks on the release with the quiet and pretty "Topolino." Subdued drumming mingles with a slight bit of guitar work while the tuba plays an almost melancholy melody. After awhile, the song breaks off into quiet before building up into an upbeat, rolicking track in which each instrument is given a chance to take the reigns. "The Horse And The Tree" works in sort of a similar way, starting off with a lonely, wailing guitar, before building into an absolutely rockin' stomper in the final 45 seconds.
Basically, the group has created an hour long instrumental excursion that sounds something like a jazz band all jacked up on goofballs. The horns add an interesting element to the group and although it's not always the two title instruments taking the front and center, the trio has found a way to make the 13 tracks work (although some definitely don't work quite as well as the others). Again, I haven't heard any other work from the group (but will look for it in the future), but if their other work is as interesting as this release without being too derivitave (or vice versa), I'd say more power to them. Fun, interesting stuff.