❉ Ange Chan speaks with Tenek about revisiting 2015’s ‘Smoke & Mirrors’.
“…the instrumental versions give a new sound-scape to an already strong and powerful album. The lack of vocals on this album takes absolutely nothing away from their original counterparts and in many parts actually adds to the ambience of the ethos of the 2015 version.”
During the lockdown period many musical artists have reworked their previously released material, often to great effect. Tenek’s 2015 album Smoke & Mirrors has received a similar treatment and is completely devoid of the original lyrics, offering up an instrumental version of all the songs on the original version of the album Smoke and Mirrors (Red).
Cheri Freund, Tenek’s PR Manager said to me, “The ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ album was yet another great opportunity for the fellas to push their creativity into new directions. It shows just how diverse these artists truly are. While Geoff and Pete were working on the album, it became obvious to all of us that both the instrumental and vocal versions easily stood out in their own right. And we knew that this album would indeed appeal to a variety of listening audiences. When the fellas were prepping the final audio files, we had both vocal and instrumentals mastered, so when the fifth anniversary of Smoke and Mirrors was coming round, both Pete and Geoff felt now was a good time to let the instrumental version of the album be released publicly. Hopefully this release will create a new found appreciation for the talent that is Tenek!“
The original release is a masterclass by Messrs Pinckney and Steer in a distinct collaboration of genres; pure electronica mixed with driving guitars making it the ultimate ‘Rock meets Synthpop’ mash-up. The original 2015 album garnered some impressive feedback from radio stations and magazines alike, including a few Metal-orientated ones, which was a complete surprise! The new (Red) version of the album offers a fresh perspective for a lockdown era, and offers a clearer view of the musical content of the songs unhindered by vocals, bringing a contemporary new view to those old classics. Peter remembers that some of those bass-lines were played on a Fender Squire Precision guitar that he bought from eBay for £71! What a wise investment!
Talking to Tenek recently, Geoff said “It was a real pleasure for me to hear those tracks again, like this. I’ve not heard them since Tenek’s last gig. All those months I spent on the production and mixing now feel totally justified. I actually prefer them as instrumentals! It’s great to hear all the details that would otherwise be obscured by the vocals. I really hope our supporters get the same satisfaction from these as I have. Much love and thanks to everyone for their support over the years”.
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint a favourite on this different but welcome album, but solid fan faves What Kind of Friend and Imitation of Life always have me grooving in the aisles (or anywhere else for that matter!) However, without the lyrics I had a ‘Name That Tune’ moment where I didn’t recognise them as the tracks I knew; such is the power of the lyrics. However, by taking the vocals away, the instrumental versions give a new sound-scape to an already strong and powerful album. The lack of vocals on this album takes absolutely nothing away from their original counterparts and in many parts actually adds to the ambience of the ethos of the 2015 version.
The original 2015 album was three years in the making and offered a bolder presentation to their previous two album releases. Each track on Smoke and Mirrors had a common theme throughout… ‘Things are not what they seem; It’s all ‘smoke and mirrors”. Pete added, “We thought it was a cool idea to release these instrumentals as they really do stand up extremely well, not only as songs with vocals, but also as stand alone pieces of instrumental music. It’s nice to be able to hear the detail in the production too. Having not listened to ‘Smoke & Mirrors’ for a while it’s still holding it’s own. Very proud of what we achieved on both versions of the album.”
The artwork on the Instrumental album is designed by Cheri Freund, however the cover artwork for the original 2015 version of the album was conceived by Greg Rolfes. Cheri added “When the album art was originally created for the 2015 release, it was actually the first time I’d ever collaborated with another visual artist for album art. I believe in giving credit where credit is due though; the cover artwork was initially conceived by a fantastic and clever artist by the name of Greg Rolfes and I just added the the finishing touches –hidden imagery, etc all in keeping with the theme of ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. When it came to the instrumental (Red) release, Pete actually had the idea to have it coloured ‘red’ which in a way was a subliminal colour of sorts but also timing it with upcoming festive period”.
The instrumental album would make a perfect film soundtrack and the band have already anticipated that this might happen, ensuring they have formatted the tracks so they can be released immediately, with all the correct Sync Licensing already in place. Let’s hope that we hear Tenek accompanying a film in the not too distant future, when we’re all allowed to visit cinemas once again, of course!
❉ ‘Smoke & Mirrors (Red)’ by Tenek was released November 6, 2020 via Bandcamp: https://tenek.bandcamp.com For further information about tenek visit tenek.co.uk
❉ Ange Chan is a freelance writer, having produced two novels and six volumes of poetry. She was also prolific contributor in the anthology collection Me and the Starman, (now available by Cult Ink on Amazon) and is a lifelong lover of music, having first been published in the 1980s music press. As well as being a frequent contributor to the pop culture website We Are Cult, she is working on her long-standing third novel Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots.
Header image: Original photo © Tenek (Geoff Pinckney) – Soundstock Festival [Chelmsford, UK]. Photography by Simon Watson and John Newstead