TUU

From the late 80’s through to 1999, I was leader and percussionist of the trio TUU, playing a music which became part of the UK’s then emerging post-Rave Ambient scene.

Richard Clare & Martin FranklinOriginating from my duo with actor and flautist, Richard Clare of the mid-80’s, I met Mykl O at a point where I was looking to expand the palette of wind/percussion and electronic drones of the duo. Mykl’s intuitive approach to electronics and musical experimentation led us straight into a number of performance and multi-speaker installation projects together, which we themed around Mykl’s phrase “music from the edge of dreams”.

Bringing these two strands of work with Richard and Mykl together, formed the first incarnation of TUU.

I had been running a cassette label called SoundImage for a few years, mainly producing compilation tapes of underground electronic music.

One Thousand Years Special Box-SDV Tontrager It was the exchange of work with numerous artists around the World which led to my first contacts with the enigmatic Dusseldorf musicians, Konrad Kraft & Dino Oon, who also ran the label, SDV Tontrager.

Before our music had been identified with any particular musical scene, TUU were operating in a genre-limbo, though one which to our minds mixed equal parts ECM with Popol Vuh, Brian Eno and Indonesian Gamelan. SDV’s altruistic offer to release our first recording, “One Thousand Years” was the boost we were waiting for. The CD duly appeared in 1993 as a limited  wood & aluminium edition and a regular jewel box version, both designed by SDV’s house designer, Jorg Willich, who at that time was studying at the Royal College of Art in London.

The Ambient Weekend, Melkweg, Amsterdam1994 was the year when the word Ambient was rehabilitated and became used to describe the work of many artists whose output previously inhabited this vague territory outside of a conveniently defined genre. Suddenly we were part of a scene ! Our circle of performance venues revolved around The Big Chill at Union Chapel, Islington, the parachute sets at Whirl-Y-Gig‘s deluxe Shoreditch venue, Club Dog and our “home” venue of Windsor Arts Centre.

Our CD release had yet to gain overground distribution, so I had built a circle of independent music shops that I would supply directly on a monthly “paper round” around London. It was while dropping off a new box of CD’s at Rocket Ron’s, Ambient Soho in Berwick St. that I began chatting to another supplier with a bag of CD’s even larger than mine. This turned out to be none other than Mike Barnett of Beyond Records, who at that time was most definately owner of the label with “the vibe”. Beyond’s “Ambient Dub” series had established the label as being bang in tune with the early 90’s Zeitgeist.

tuu_94-1Our second album “All Our Ancestors” was released on Beyond in 1995, following the label’s release of the Richard H.Kirk “Electronic Eye” album and Max Eastley & David Toop’s “Buried Dreams”.

Beyond had just set up a sister label, Waveform to release it’s catalogue in the USA, so “Ancestors” gained it’s stateside release the following year. Sales across both labels went beyond anything we could have imagined.

By this time, Richard Clare had left to pursue his acting career and Rebecca Lublinski joined us playing a variety of flutes, bansuri and pipes. We began working with booking agency Chain Reaction in Brussels and had a stream of performances at home and now also around Europe. Our idylic Sunday afternoon set in the Whirl-Y-Gig tent at that year’s WOMAD, playing to 1000 people all laying flat on their backs, was surely a defining moment for us.

Whilst working on our third album, Rebecca became less available for our recordings, so we called in Nick Parkin, who I’d recently met while working on the Stillpoint project with Lights In A Fat City’s Eddy Sayer. With Beyond reeling from the impact of the way independent labels are treated by the music business machine, we signed that year with HOS/Fathom Records who released “Mesh” in the USA in late 1996.

Bologna 1995Although our most short lived line up, memorable performances included supporting Daevid Allen’s Gong in Belgium, where the man himself sat at the side of stage while we played, commenting afterwards “You’ve created a continuum”. Looking back now, I can see how rich his concise comment was.

We had been invited to do some performances in Italy, organised by Stefano Musso/Alio Die over the Summer. The duo material that we generated during our performances in Italy and Belgium became the second Fathom Records release,  “Terma”.

I’d written a number of solo compositions using the gongs and metal instruments in my TUU set up, which I developed further while working on a commission to produce the soundfield for ceramic artist, Nikki Coe’s “Calls From The Rock” exhibition. Mykl had just left the UK for what was to become his new home in New Zealand, and so these final recordings of the TUU era came to be released by the Italian, Amplexus label in 1999 as “The Frozen Lands“.

Early promotional image, created prior to the release of "All Our Ancestors" on Beyond Records

May 2010:

I’ve just looked out some old scans of our original black & white photo session, taken by photographer, Val Rylands which feature, our flautist, Rebecca Lublinski.

These images must have been taken some time around 1994, during rehearsals for “All Our Ancestors”. I recall we were doing quite a lot of performances during that time, and we set up all of our gear in the small Theatre space at Windsor Arts Centre one Sunday, and played whilst Val stalked around us looking for the angles.

I’m not going to put these in a page gallery, but if anyone wants to have a look at them, they’re 1600×1200 just uploaded to the server here.
whirlygigClub Dog, London 1994The Ambient Club, London 1994

12 thoughts on “TUU”

  1. Me and my dad go to womad every year to run a workshop
    Please reply to the earlier comment :)

  2. Well, hi Sebastian, amazing to hear from you. This is my web site, as you’ll see. Please do give my regards to your dad, it’s been a very long time since we saw each other.

  3. I knew Rebecca. She was a very special person; what happened was just too sad. Bought your 2nd album today and am looking forward to listening to it. All the best

  4. Hi Adam,
    Thanks for that. Very hard to find words adequate to reply with. Sad in every way. Still, the music lives on and seems to be being discovered by new people even now.

  5. I’m just listening to 1000 Years. I am one of the fortune people with the limited edition wood/metal case. I was living overseas when it came out and my mum bought it for me when she used to work at Windsor Arts Centre. Beautiful stuff….

  6. Fortunate indeed Simon!
    I’ve been listening to my two albums of Tuu-Invocations and a Thousand Years for quite a few years now and only just discovered the other 6 or so, available, or at least I hope they are available.
    Are they, Martin?
    Greg

  7. Hi Greg, Hi Simon,
    You might need to do some hunting to find some of them, but our follow up to OTY is still available from Waveform Recs in the USA, or on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/all-our-ancestors/id35758057. HOS/Fathom Recs sold their catalog when they dissolved and I’m not sure what has happened to the recordings we released with them. I might put “Deserted Cities” and a couple of the other releases up on Bandcamp or something at some point.

  8. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for keeping all this here, clearly many people still very touched by what you created with Tuu, Really appreciate those lovely pics of Bex too. And, particularly today, I am grateful that her playing is so beautifully and powerfully captured.

    Do you have a link ( youtube) with All Our Ancestors … was going to post it on a blog, and prefer that the credit goes towards you, rather than others … ( or I can upload and share, – with credit links etc + if that’s ok with you,?) love and gratitude. Christoffer ( Bex Brother)

  9. Loved the organo-electro acoustic music TUU was making back in the 90s. Its great to read about some of the bands origins and releases here. I picked up the Beyond ver. of All Our Ancestors which had a beautiful fold out mandala sort of insert. Btw I recorded as Open Canvas on Waveform! Thanks for sharing your creative muse with us!

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