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Tonstartssbandht Announce New Album, Petunia, With Video for Lead Single “What Has Happened”

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

onstartssbandht - the brother duo of Edwin and Andy White - announce their new album, Petunia, out October 22nd on Mexican Summer, and today present its lead single/video, “What Has Happened.” At the core of Tonstartssbandht is the idea of a song as a living, breathing thing, a liquid portrait that sloshes to the borders of whatever frame is fixed upon it. Through constant touring, the brothers’ songs both take shape and change shape, becoming something a little different every night as they explore the possibilities inherent within them. With time, attention, and intention, these songs—long, languid, full of open musical questions and temporary answers—become distinct objects, and the process begins again. On Petunia, the brothers’ 18th album, they bring us to the earliest moments of this process, showing off a barn full of hatchlings already decked with splendid plumage.

A sense of waiting in liminal spaces - of wondering what exists on the other side of uncertainty - shimmers through lead single “What Has Happened.” With an arrangement lightly influenced by Talk Talk and a shaky guitar sounding like a sonar, Andy and Edwin perch at the edge of the self and stare out. “Honestly,” Andy sings, his voice breaking, “What has happened to me?” The accompanying video showcases the natural beauty of their hometown, as the brothers meander through Orlando’s waterfront parks.

Director Case Mahan elaborates: “We shot a couple hundred feet of Super 8 in the hot Orlando sun. That nocturnal bird that showed up midday gave us permission to film a heavy subject on a beautiful afternoon. Not premeditated, everything seemed to fall into place much like the band’s performances that are sometimes seemingly improvised.

Where most Tonstartssbandht albums come together slowly over years, recorded on the fly whenever the Whites have a few spare moments on the road, Petunia was largely written and recorded in their home city of Orlando in 2020. Many of the tracks had been played live, but in extremely rough form, and hadn’t yet developed into any kind of mature stage. With plenty of time on their hands thanks to the lockdown, and no shows to play, Andy and Edwin decided to pack some flesh onto those skeletons and bring them to life on their own. Petunia is the first Tonstartssbandht album to be created in a sustained manner and in a consistent environment, written and recorded in a single place over a focused period of time.

As a result, Petunia feels like a unified aesthetic statement. Using little more than a 12-string guitar and a drum kit, Andy and Edwin weave together the gentle headiness of Laurel Canyon and the sweaty pacing of Cologne; like a gyroscope, its constant motion produces the illusion of stillness—and that stillness gives it a sense of intimacy and introspection, something that’s further illuminated by the new emphasis placed on the brothers’ vocals. Taking cues from The Zombies and the falsetto-feathered singing of ’70s funk and reggae, Andy and Edwin stitch their voices together so easily, and with such generosity, it’s virtually impossible to see the seams.

This is the first time the two have brought in perspectives from outside of the White family. “It’s the first time we’ve ever brought someone else into the mixing stage,” Andy notes. While the album was recorded at the brothers’ home studio in Orlando between April and August of 2020, it was mixed by Joseph Santarpia and Roberto Pagano at The Idiot Room in San Francisco. Petunia is brighter, punchier, and more direct than its predecessor, the direct result of Santarpia and Pagano’s confidence in the performances the album captures.

As the Whites have long known, a song—like a person—is a constantly evolving thing, and a record is a photograph, a way to pause that motion, to examine an object at a single moment in its evolution. It’s a way of suggesting stability where it doesn’t actually exist. Petunia is not Tonstartssbandht’s definitive statement on these songs, because how could it be? But it is a portrait of Andy and Edwin White at home in Florida, an artfully staged landscape rich in detail, its winding passages and airy environment waiting to be explored.

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