Essential New Music: Wet Tuna’s “Water Weird”

When Matt Valentine and Pat “P.G. Six” Gubler played together in Tower Recordings, they often seemed to represent opposing methodologies within that communal endeavor. While Valentine favored a distinctly American form of entropy, Gubler seemed to advocate for a close study of English folk forms. These differences dissolve in Wet Tuna, which features Gubler and Valentine alone except for a sequence of pinch-hitting drummers. There’s no mistaking Valentine’s voice, even though it’s been funneled through enough effects to make it crinkle like thrice-used aluminum foil.

These two men seem united in their evocation of the sorts of sounds that lure far-gone record nerds down rabbit holes that are far deeper than they look. You can imagine them sitting in some basement home studio, finishing each other’s thoughts as they first propose and then realize ridiculous-yet-possible recording scenarios. “What if Scratch Perry took over John Martyn’s One World sessions … ” Gubler begins. “… But Garcia and Weir sat in and got everyone to play over Arthur Russell b-sides,” finishes Matt. They nod sagely to each other in perfect unison, and then make it so. Water Weird is the home-brewed, rural disco album with dancing-bear-embossed socks on that you never knew until now that you needed. But now that you know, it cannot be denied. 

—Bill Meyer