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Terminal Sound System

Compressor

(Extreme Music; US: 8 May 2007; UK: Available as import)

Terminal Sound System, the project of Australian artist Skye Klein, does a number on the sounds of drum ‘n’ bass and emerges as something closer to the skittish patterings of garage. Klein also plays in a noise/doom metal duo Halo, and his affinity with noise is evident in his new project, albeit in bursts of distortion only. You’ll hear strong nods to Squarepusher, whose experimental techno Klein himself admits to admiring; but Terminal Sound System has its own rigor. And rigor defines this project, from the complex rhythms that fade off the beat or shuffle incessantly to the booming swells of bass. Each of the eight songs on Compressor is over five minutes, and they’re long five minutes. Songs take time to evolve, their minimal evolutions only changing slightly over the course of a track. “722” is a highlight: a more sparse beat with pieces of silence and rolled-into snare gradually blossoms then explodes, with massive bass billowing for a few seconds before falling back into a holding pattern. Elsewhere, as on “Ghost Summer”, the closest comparator are new garage artists like Burial, though TSS is more interested in sonic experimentation. “Mi Clutter” is only interested in upsetting any possible sense of continuity and “Dustbox” is so cut up that the vocal sample becomes hardly a syllable, just the letter “d”. This music is drum ‘n’ bass taken to an extreme. My Shure headphones certainly weren’t up to the task of reproducing that sound, but as such, it’s a successful one. Terminal Sound System have crafted a stringent, complex series of compositions that push the boundaries of a few genres and offer an interesting, if challenging, sonic evolution.

Rating:

Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


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