Streaking in Tongues Release “Einstein’s Napkin” 

Marquette, Michigan’s Ronnie and Elliott Ferguson constitute the father/son duo Streaking in Tongues, and their idiosyncratic brand of instrumental music, inspired by the poetry of Marty Achatz, stands out for several reasons. Their latest full-length release entitled Einstein’s Napkin merges experimental strands, folk, indie rock, minimalist jazz, and progressive rock into an irresistible stew that is challenging yet surprisingly accessible. The fifteen cuts included on the release are invariably brief pieces, none running longer than three minutes and nine seconds, but captivate listeners with their unadorned naturalness, unique melodies, and an understated sense of humor.


“Lumbering Along Bluff Creek” opens the album with their unique melodic talents at the fore. The delicate, slow-moving interplay between keyboards and guitar charts a careful course through the song’s three minutes and nine seconds running time. Many listeners will be taken by the clarity behind the song’s guitar playing and its understated interplay. “Love and Need” introduces listeners to the duo’s jazzier inclinations and it is an evocative yet brief piece. Saxophonist Patrick Booth makes his first appearance, and his playing strikes a harmonious note with the clean guitar work. The latter’s melodic brevity does nothing to short-circuit its impact on listeners.

Straightforward percussion, exploratory saxophone, and another beguiling guitar melody form the foundation of “Triangle Stacked on Triangle”. The deliberate pacing of compositions such as this gives them a constructed tone, every note sounds well-considered, but this mood does nothing to dampen their appeal. Streaking in Tongues is arguably one of the more cerebral outfits you will hear in 2024, but they are nonetheless musical. “The Grief of the Answer” performs a deft balancing act between electrified folk, indie rock, and jazzier inclinations without focusing on one style. This unique blending of varied musical voices is one of Einstein’s Napkin’s early highlights.

Patrick Booth’s sax playing helps define “God’s Eyelashes” without overshadowing the other instruments. The barely mid-tempo pace gains added energy thanks to the track’s abbreviated running time. Streaking in Tongues goes in for freewheeling minimalist jazz during the track “Holy Gull”, and it results in one of the riskier numbers recorded for this release. There is a smattering of spirituality in the keyboard playing, and the mood conjures unusual atmospherics that hold your attention.

The foreboding progressive touches adorning “A Black Hole with Legs” make it one of the album’s moodier pieces. Subtle touches throughout the track give it a low-key flourish without ever creating a distraction for listeners. The assortment of melodic phrases gelling together to form “Timber Wolf with Hiccups” has free-form inventiveness that strikes you as first-take and spontaneous. It is notable how Streaking in Tongues achieves such a wide range of textures with limited instrumentation. It is a testament to the Fergusons, particularly Ronnie, and their boundless ability to coalesce rather esoteric ideas into suggestive and mentally stimulating compositions. Streaking in Tongues’ Einstein’s Napkin is remarkably accessible given the nature of the work and deserves notice as one of the more intriguing instrumental releases in recent memory.

Chadwick Easton


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