Japan’s penchant for producing bands who bring something fresh to a whole heap of genres never fails to astound me. Four piece, Té are now in their eighth year and it’s been a busy few years for them. Five albums and countless sold out live gigs shows their work evolving exponentially with each album.
The translated song titles are never simple; eschewing “regular” naming conventions and going the route of Red Sparowes. Poetic, if not a little nonsensical, I’m sure they lose something in their translation.
Te’s fifth doesn’t quite storm out of the blocks, choosing to start with a string orchestra tuning up whilst it descends into the matrix and as soon as you think you’re going to settle in for a quiet ride the album begins proper, exploding and grabbing you by the ears. Intricate tapped style riffing and stop-start drumming drag you inexorably out of the intro into the meat of the song and its the drummer leading the way. He treats the drums as another addition to the wall of sound; the snare rolls never seem to stop, allowing you to lose yourself in them whilst maintaining the sharp punctuation of the high hat. The drumming throughout is excellent but so is the general level of musicianship. The bass is pretty low-key in this first track, allowing the guitarists room to bounce back and forth with ideas, constantly shifting the aural landscape and by the track’s ends you feel like you’re in a different place and this feeling continues throughout the album.
The pace continues to be frenetic until somewhere around the three-quarter mark; the music slowly easing as if the band have expended all of their energy giving you a site seeing tour of their madcap world. Not that this detracts, far from it. Managing to keep a very organic feel to the album, the slowing of pace allows some of the more beautiful moments of the album to emerge and shows that they are more than just an unstoppable juggernaut of jazz fusion riffage. The music that they create towards the end of album feels almost ethereal and introspective, in total contrast to the extroverted stringed and percussive showmanship of the earlier tracks. Production wise, it is superb, utilizing a wall of sound that encompasses every instrument. The guitars and bass intertwine hypnotically but the real star of the show is the drumming. Never ceasing, creating a wall of sound on his own, the drummer is a ball of frenetic energy. I have only heard drumming like this on Mastodon albums!
The biggest surprise for me was the final track. After feeling yourself relaxing with the album’s closing they choose, in esoteric fashion, to finish with what can only be described as grindcore. Lunatic vocals, over a gnashing fuzz of intense, angular guitar work; there is nothing about this track that says post rock. And for me that adds to the albums’s charm but maybe that’s because I lean towards the more metal end of the spectrum. You have been warned. If grind isn’t your thing then you can always opt to skip this track!
As a band they’ve got an attention span shorter than a New York minute and, like a psychedelic episode, the next thing they do is more interesting than what they’re doing at the moment. This album is fearless in its experimentation, resulting in the odd Frankenstein-esque monster, more often resulting in hitherto undiscovered delights and the band uses every trick at its disposal to keep you guessing where they will turn next. Coaxing a whole array of sounds they end up sounding like a love child between the Mars Volta and Tom Morello brought up listening to Boris.
That’s not to say that this is a perfect album. There are a few tracks that outstay their welcome and some ideas which were a bit too left field. Those trimmed out would have this as contender for album of the year.
Available for £11 on Bandcamp: http://zankyouk.bandcamp.com/album/t-therefore-the-illusion-of-density-breach-the-tottering-world-forget-tomorrow