3 Oct 2013

Freq review of Teeth of the Sea MASTER

Another glowing review:

Bloody hell lads. Bloody hell.

So I’ve seen Teeth of the Sea a few times. First time a good four years ago when they were playing with Gnod and Thought Forms at a time when Gnod were, with due deference, about the best band in the country. So my memory of that night is a bit tinted in Gnod’s colours. TotS live, as I recall (this is the first record I’ve actually heard) were throwing some great electro-kraut shapes with psych-ish punctuations but not quite as whole-sum as Gnod.

Don’t take that too much to heart though – I was as stickily plastered as a new ceiling.

Master though, it’s a whole different thing. Rocket Recordings might have a bit of a reputation as being a slop-house for psych on just the right side of mongy but TotS are legions away from the hallucinogens/studio wah triumvurate. This is a fucking sharp record.

And ambitious. And confident. There’s an opening track in heavily-effected German (“Leder”). There’s a monologue set over and under something close to Terry Riley‘s sax work with some Moroder-esque timbre-fancying speaker-bothering (“The Servant”). There’s a couple of whacking great proper 80s metal chords thrown in (“Pleiades Underground”). Often with bands with high ambition there’s a gulf between the band’s narrcissism and their record collection, but Teeth of the Sea are quite seriously and successfully throwing in all sorts: Italo disco, Throbbing Gristle, day-glo doom, opulent proggery and art-house fuck yous. A record that’s definitely got influences but more as an accident of mutual history than of artificial caprice (or worse, record company promo-fluff).

It’s also got the right weight. By which I mean it’s got slow songs in the way a symphony has slow movements. It moves around tempos but not out of fidgety inertia and muso show-offery. It’s probably more synth-led than their live show was last I saw them a couple of years ago and they’ve definitely earned their disco-wings, finding the disco kernel of earlier kraut tendencies.

I’ve always been probably closer to the glasses-wearing sexless turd side of plate-scraping noise wankers than their previous sound (as it was live, anyway) but they’ve found a way to segue some cracking, well-considered textural noise (“Responder”) and brutal industrial touches (“All Human is Error”) into the general feel of shedding krautish repetition for poppers o’clock electro. Again, the weights and colours are brilliantly disposed here. Holism is a cock of a word to use but it sounds like a huge committee of well-meaning auteurs have done the unthinkinkable and made a fucking brilliant record touching all bases (or at least making me forget the ones they’ve not touched). There’s a 10 minute closing song (of course) which somehow teeters like a ginned up lush in murderous 8-inch heels through vocoder malice, bliss-out noise, coming up trance synths, modem racket all over a beat that screams CHECK MY FUCKING SWAGGER.

Good then? Yeah. Really fucking good. Not in a “yeah, that’s alright, I’ll stick that on” way but in a “should I listen to one of the other new ones? Nah, I’ll listen to the fucking TotS record again, that’s a fucking belter.”

-Kev Nickells-

See the review here: Freq