tētēma: necroscape [out 4.3.2020]
Necroscape is the 2nd album from Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' modernist electro-acoustic rock proposition tētēma. Joined by violinist Erkki Veltheim and drummer WIll Guthrie in quartet formation, this record continues to employ the wayward orchestrations and arresting physicality of their 2014 debut Geocidal, yet is renewed by a melodic language which grounds it's multi-coloured twists and turns in hallucinatory lyricism.
Where Geocidal was loosely based on futuristic post-colonial dystopias, its even cheerier successor is sculpted around isolation in the surveillance age; and although lofty/high-concept sounding, this is still an intensely fun and heavy listen. Necroscape synthesizes a lot of territory: odd-time rock, musique concrète, otherworld grooves, soul, industrial noise, microtonal psychoacoustics….seemingly strange bedfellows on paper, yet in the ears they surprisingly coalesce into 13 songs which playfully challenge our notions of sonic logic and make you move at the same time. In a nutshell, listening to Necroscape creates the weird sensation of exclaiming "of course!" and "wtf?" simultaneously.
5 years in the making, Necroscape mushroomed organically from Pateras' production based on tape loops, analogue synthesis and rarified keyboard instruments in combination with Patton's dense vocal arrangements, Veltheim's exploratory violins and Guthrie's unique percussive strategies. The result is a handmade, kaleidoscopic tour-de-force which re-imagines songwriting as something other. Artwork features beautiful leather sculptures by Talitha Kennedy, tiled lyric sheet and limited edition white vinyl. tētēma invites you to listen.
Haunted On The Uptake
Sounds like The Melvins' tour van broke down in the Balkans and instead of going home, they decide to open a mountain laboratory dedicated to possible hybrids of Rembetika and hardcore. This sounds like the pop music of a youth I wish I'd had, but instead I grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne smoking bongs and listening to Bungle.
Wait Till Mornin'
Peter Gunn on methampetamine with RD Burman as co-pilot, being pursued by Madlib through an early 80s London industrial estate. This was one of the first songs we wrote for the new album, and probably played a big part in convincing us doing another would be a good idea. It is the only song on the record with a drumless chorus; like a lot of our music, the drama is upside down.
Mike and I wrestled with this one in the alleyway but eventually beat it to death with absurdly long sentences. It's a meditation on facile internet culture and misplaced ambition delivered over close-miked prepared piano, giallo synth/pizzicato lines, and stratospheric children's rounds. Trust us it's a hoot.
No other band would combine microtonal buchla with hyperactive drumming to serenade Paganini and Leonard Cohen passed out in a hot tub. This track is like pressing fast forward on both a Scelsi and Yasunao Tone CD on different systems pointed at each other, except it's performed live. Quite possibly the only track in the world to refer to Deleuze as 'chichi'.