Teeth of the Sea: Highly Deadly Black Tarantula
The announcement of a new Teeth of the Sea release is always a seismic event round these parts. I think it’s fair to say they’re a band that unites all four of us in effervescent delight having fan-gushed over their previous albums (here, here and here). With the news of Highly Deadly Black Tarantula a collective ‘Ye Gods! YES!’ could be heard in Manchester, London and Abu Dhabi.
If ‘classic TOTS’ is now a permissible phrase, opener ‘All My Venom’ is such. It feels like a nod to classics (yes, I can use that) such as ‘Swear Blind The Alsatian’s Melting’ as trumpet, guitars, drones, and beats build and weave. What amounts to the single from the album, ‘Animal Manservant’, is even more venomous than its predecessor, with vocals akin to a catatonic fit, macerating beats and the lightest of stargazing melodies. If Perc were to collab (as the kids call it) with Keith Emerson I think this would be the mutated, but nonetheless lovable, offspring.
‘Field Punishment’ is the standout on this release. A chest thumping robotic funk, it’s EBM for an ageing rave generation and conjures images of TOTs bedecked in crisp white vests with legs spread in heroic übermensch stances (and a whole host of other Front 242 or Frontline Assembly imaginings). That’s probably not what they’re going for, but there’s no accounting for interpretation is there?
‘Have You Ever Held A Bird of Prey’ reveals the confidence of the band: four of its seven and half minutes are composed of a bare throb before it erupts into another dirty pulsating rhythm interspersed with keyhole surgery guitars. Please note: I give you those timings deliberately as the exploding of the upbeat section has caught me unawares on numerous occasions (twice involving hot coffee). It’s that moment in Jaws when the heads rolls out – you know it’s coming, but it doesn’t mean you won’t jump.
‘Phonogene’ continues the TOTs tradition of experimental tracks with human voices; this time it sounds like an answering machine having a bastard of a day. Final track ‘Love Theme for 1984’ finds the band in more melancholic and poignant mood: a beautiful evolving slab of kosmic Berlin School, with hints of Klaus Schulze and Edgar Froese, brought together by tremolo guitar and distant brass melodies. As a final track ‘Responder’ it ain’t, but expecting something similar is a tad unfair.
Indeed, whilst Highly Deadly Black Tarantula is no Master in its overriding impact, it’s still undoubtedly and by far and away one of the best things you’ll hear all year. And that’s something we can all agree on. BUY