Music

Teeth of the Sea Return with Their New Alchemical Experiment 'Wraith'

Photo: Al Overdrive / Courtesy of Rocket Recordings

Through the electronic and jazz themes of Wraith, it is Teeth of the Sea's psychedelia that prevails.

Wraith
Teeth of the Sea

Rocket Recordings

22 February 2019

It is a difficult task to alter one's musical identity from one record to the next. But still, there are some bands that have been able to achieve such magical results, like the Melvins or the noise powerhouse Wolf Eyes. Teeth of the Sea, the psychedelic, experimental band from London, appear to take a cue from such acts, and throughout their discography they have been able to evolve and mutate. Their works have found them experimenting with straight psychedelic rock motifs, noise elements, jazz, and free improvisational characteristics all the way to electronic and dubstep and a touch of post-rock. This demeanor of not standing is what depicts the core attribute of Teeth of the Sea, their utter unwillingness to be pigeonholed.

In this same manner, the band's new work sees them performing their alchemical experiments in pursuit of another distinct and unique manifestation. In order to achieve that end goal, the band puts together an impressive array of mismatched elements, starting from the electronic and industrial qualities that forge the backbone of Wraith. "I'd Rather, Jack" sees this mechanical motif present itself, creating a colder and more detached foundation. Even further within the electronic groove and theme, the band unleashes "VISITOR", a transcendental electronic track, that unravels the colder industrial touch and immerses the listener into a Vangelis-like mesmerizing trip.

On the other end however, there is a very different element that acts as the counterpart to the electronic foundation of Wraith. The inclusion of the saxophone in the start of "Hiraeth" is not simply a nice moment, a fleeting addition, that the band briefly visits. On the contrary, it is a core component of Wraith's vision. The soundscapes are plunged in the smooth jazz quality that the sax brings forth, dressing the ambiance in a noir tone. Still, that is not its sole role, and throughout the record, the sax creates many much more tense moments. The opening of "Burn the Shielding" sees this jazz sense take over and result into a towering manifestation, which then morphs and brings in a much more emotive and darker essence.

No matter how the electronic and jazz sides are used, how the two interact brings out an aura of mystery. It feels like the cyberpunk landscapes that the band has set are painted anew with the jazz crescendos. When the two sides collide, in the case of "Her Wraith", the result is this magnificent, ethereal outburst, with the tribal drumming in the final part of the track adding to this mystical experience. "Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World" is a similar endeavor, but this time around the band takes a turn towards an even more off-kilter dimension, transforming the futuristic scenery into an alien world.

This stitching together of different styles would not be successful if Teeth of the Sea did not find a cohesive material to connect them. The band's psychedelic mindset, however, makes things much easier. No matter what area they are exploring, they implement audio effects and slight touches to bring all elements under the same roof. In the opening track, it's the guitar leads that become the glue between the psychedelic and electronic sides. It is a similar case with "Hiraeth" where a few simple licks take the track a long way and drench the soundscapes in this sweet, hazy feeling. This attribute even becomes a portal, which transports Teeth of the Sea to completely unexpected directions.

The closing track of the album "Gladiators Ready" summarizes the true essence of the band. While retaining a strong electronic foundation, the focus is on the psychedelic aspect of the music, the core attribute of Teeth of the Sea, and so they deliver a strong, final trip leaving you amidst a haze of sounds and images that are bombarding you from all directions. This knowledge of handling different genres and creating an amalgamation out of all the those different sides is what makes Wraith such an intriguing listen. Through its duration, the band undergoes various mutations, introduces strange motifs and bizarre progressions, but it is all so well balanced and presented that this process appears to be effortless.

8

Fave Five: JR JR

After the biggest hit of their career, the indie-quirk all-stars JR JR return from a multi-year break with a new label and two new albums. As they count down their "Five Albums That Shaped My Musical Taste", we learn of how Josh used to call Sunny Day Real Estate band members at home.

Evan Sawdey
Music
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2018 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.