Blue Tofu

Blue Tofu

Creative people create. It’s in the DNA. If you are an artist, you paint or draw; a writer writes, a musician makes music. It’s what they do. Artists will tell you that they can’t always make a living doing it and have to supplement with other pursuits, but at their core, artists (with the possible exception of Harper Lee) make art. With that being said, it bemuses and befuddles me to see an indie band with a twelve year gap between releases. Surely, no one but close friends and family were awaiting their sophomore album. The band’s debut album the eponymously titled “Blue Tofu” was released in 2001 and was named by the monthly magazine ‘The Absolute Sound’ as “one of the 40 all-time best albums” some twelve years after its release.

To be fair, Blue Tofu is a duo made up of Tim Story and Andrea Mathews. Tim is a Grammy nominated musician primarily working in the electronic music field and has been hailed by ‘CD Review’ as “a master of electronic chamber music”. Dating back to 1981, Tim’s discography includes collaborations with some of electronic music’s living legends. Obviously, Blue Tofu is a side project into the world of rock music, to which Tim lends his gifts of harmonious ambient sounds to Andrea’s haunting vocal style to create something one critic has said “takes pop music in a genuinely fresh direction.”

It seemed that the pair had hit on a winning recipe and this reviewer wonders why it took them twelve years for the follow up. Blue Tofu’s second release came in October of 2013 and the album “Our Room” seemed to produce little to no fanfare. Unfortunately what might have been fresh and innovative in 2001 now feels like well-trod ground. I don’t hear anything in this record that I haven’t heard from Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, or Sade for that matter. I suspect that if I heard this record in 2001, I too would have hailed it as a breath of fresh air but now it just seems plain and unimpressive.

There is nothing “bad” about the record, just familiar and uninspiring. I am afraid twelve years was too long a wait for a follow up album from this obviously talented duo. I would have liked to have heard more in the interim.

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– Rob Penland

A NOTE ABOUT THE CRITIC: Rob Penland hosts and produces The Mad Music Asylum, a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio program and now a 24 hour streaming radio station.