“Flash of Light” – Tugboat Captain

Short and expansive, with bassoon

“Flash of Light” – Tugboat Captain

“Flash of Light” may be the most expansive, fully-developed two-minute song I’ve ever heard. It unfolds without any sense of hurry: fully 43 seconds of the two minutes operates as the introduction; there is, additionally, an instrumental break, an engaging structure, and a sophisticated sense of melody. At the same time, there is no chorus, which is one sly way to shorten a song. The imagistic lyrics are haiku-like in their brevity and allusiveness, hinting at unexplored depths with impressive conciseness–another way of creating an impression of something weightier than the time clock might seem to indicate.

Let’s get back to that drawn-out introduction. I’m not often a fan of long intros, and initially looked askance at the unusual intro/body-of-song ratio. But this one launches with a pleasing mixture of mystery and urgency: first, an in-the-distance keyboard pounding around some synth squiggles in a sort of pre-introduction; this swells at 0:21 into a more dramatic soundscape, a siren-like electric guitar now reinforcing the pounding motif; and everything now engaging the ear so thoroughly that the pull-the-plug ending at 0:42 feels momentarily disconcerting. But this drop is its own kind of wonderful, the song collapsing on the third beat of a measure idiosyncratically expanded to 6/4 as the singing starts. This might better be framed as a new, 2/4 measure, which adds emphasis to a melody otherwise being offered on the downbeat. In any case, what a melody it is, brought to melancholy life via the wistful tones of front man Alexander Sokolow, punctuated by some Beatlesque chord changes (cf. 0:46-0:48). Also, there’s a bassoon in here somewhere. The band has a bassoon player.

And hm–I risk explicating out of proportion to the song’s succinctness don’t I? It’ll only take two minutes of your time to investigate so go do. And maybe you’ll figure out on your own the location of “the first ever four-part bassoon drop in the indie-rock genre,” as noted by the band on their Bandcamp page. They take their bassooning seriously.

Tugboat Captain is a four-piece from London. “Flash of Light” is a single released in January. A second single, “Deep Sea Diving,” was released in mid-March. The band’s debut album, Rut, appeared in 2020. You can check everything out on Bandcamp.

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