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One of a number of groups blurring the lines between rock and dance, Tussle blend dub, Krautrock, minimal techno, electro, and post-punk, among other sounds, into a cohesive, danceable whole. The group, which hails from San Francisco's Mission district, included in its earliest lineup drummer/melodica player Alexis Georgopoulos, bassist Andy Cabic, keyboardist/programmer Nathan Burazer, and percussionist Jonathan Holland, who plays bells, a custom drum kit, and found objects, including scraps of metal and a plastic bucket. Tussle formed in 2001 and began recording their improv-based instrumental dance-rock almost immediately after, setting up in studios including Mo Wax's Tommy Guerrero's recording space and their own basement. The band also made a name for itself as a live act, performing in basements and galleries, as well as more typical venues.
Tussle made their debut in 2002 with a track on Deitch Projects' Frisco Styles compilation; soon after, they signed to Troubleman Unlimited. The band issued a series of EPs on the label, starting with that summer's Eye Contact — which featured artwork by Chris Johanson, who was featured in the Whitney Biennial — and 2004's Don't Stop, which featured remixes from the Soft Pink Truth (aka Matmos' Drew Daniel) and Stuart Argabright of Death Comet Crew. Their first full-length, Kling Klang, arrived in 2006 and expanded on the sound of their EPs, while Telescope Mind, which was Tussle's first album for Smalltown Supersound, went in a more obviously Krautrock-inspired direction. Released in 2007, the Warning EP featured remixes by Hot Chip and Optimo; that year, the band also collaborated with Scottish artist David Shrigley, contributing a track to his Worried Noodles anthology.
Tussle welcomed bassist Tomo Yasuda into the fold for their 2008 album, Cream Cuts, which also featured a collaboration with Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor. The following year, the band contributed the track "Soft Crush" to Tradi-Mods vs. Rockers: Alternative Takes on Congotronics, and the song's simpler, less studio-reliant approach influenced Tussle's 2012 album, Tempest. The album introduced drummer Kevin Woodruff and also featured collaborations with Optimo's JD Twitch and Liquid Liquid's Dennis Young and Sal Principato.