Without a doubt, Wet Tuna’s debut album, Livin’ The Die, is one of the most exciting new records within the world of psychedelic and eclectic music.
After building up a hefty reputation as a killer live act, especially thanks to their Deadhead-like performance recording and sharing community, the experimental Vermont duo’s first physical release was hotly anticipated. Thankfully, it was worth the wait, as this reviewer’s high expectations were beyond met.
Comprised of Pat Gubler (of PG Six, Pigeons and Tower Recordings) and Matt Valentine (of MV & EE and also Tower Recordings) Wet Tuna has woven together here a vibrant tapestry of hypnotic, free form jams, rural psychedelia and cosmic folk music. Songs like “I’d Rather Be Hayin’” start with a simplistic and repetitive electronic beat that is akin to something from a Suicide or Neu! album, before spiraling out into feedback-drenched guitar freak outs, astral ambience and spacy abstractions. Overall, the music that you hear on Livin’ The Dieis somewhere between Simply Saucer, Steve Gunn and Gong.
Unlike so many jam-oriented groups, it’s fair to say that Wet Tuna successfully replicated their live sound and spirit on this studio record. You can easily feel the same spontaneity and resilient energy coursing through both this album and the various bootlegged recordings that are currently circulating the web (especially the killer December 9th, 2017 show—strongly recommended). If a second album were to develop, it would be very interesting to see if Valentine and Gubler would continue in this vein, or move toward a more refined, song-oriented direction instead. Additionally, if a second album were to be released, here’s hoping that they include a Grateful Dead cover, mirroring their live show even more.
While the group’s Bandcamp page features digital downloads, the vinyl and CD editions are worth seeking out for their sound as well as their packaging, which are rich with surreal artwork and complementary Wet Tuna bumper stickers. What’s not to love about that?