SUPERTOYS LAST ALL SUMMER LONG


Teeth Of The Sea – Your Mercury
May 7, 2011, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews, Recommended Albums, The Quietus

Oh sure, it must be pretty sweet in dreamy old Orange State, San Francisco. I mean, we go on holiday for that kind of weather. It’s only natural then that Cali psyche-rockers need only drop a particularly tart pear-drop before they’re suckling god-milk from the teats of unicorns. Over here though, humping a Redwood all the way to Venus is a little more difficult to put your faith in. Without the Harley’s, the unpopular wars, or the dry firewood, the hippy ideal has never translated accurately in the grimy confines of soot and cement Britain. Punk though, that was much more Blighty; all crap and botheration.

So forget river-swimming on mescaline, Your Mercury isn’t psychedelic, its psychological – the trip never feels chemical. In fact, Teeth Of The Sea’s epileptic, infinite and disturbance-vexed second album sooner calls to mind the altered states of mental ill-heath – psychotic delusions transporting the lifers to self-constructed worlds; touched, tasted and played in from inside a locked room. What use is a clear night sky for stargazing when amber light pollution is amplifying the voices in your head?

Potent and full-blooded next to their debut’s amorphous, blurry post-rock, Your Mercury crafts a distinctive alloy of transcendental juju and Noise’s junk art sensibility, toughened with marauding sci-fi Brit-prog, and occasionally blessed by minimalist ambience in the 80s post-Cluster vein. Most importantly, a nameless sentience pervades, which – to swipe K-punk’s theory of the ‘anamorph’- is something you can only see if you’re looking askance. This is a crucial factor in separating London’s neo-pscyhe cognoscenti from your vintage weed-and-lasers binman prog. “Its caught on, the ghosts are swarming” Mark Fisher declared this year, and swarm they do on the always compelling, enormously impressive Your Mercury.

It’s an album of transmissions and crackling emanations – mayday signals ghosting from a London swallowed by a magnetised groundswell. Kicking off the heavier front-end, auspicious primer ‘Ambassador’ begins with an axel- grinding hit of noise, precipitating two overdriven, regenerating bass notes that sit in your stomach like an old iron rudder. Motes of digital language, foamy detritus and pitch-bent screams flare up atop the stentorian trudge, with blue streaks of crazy-horse guitar flailing alongside. As we pass through the eye of the storm, diced horns reform from some skulking trip-hop track, quivering dizzily before a final gust scatters them into a twinkling starburst.

Complete with a syncopated house beat and creepy Dr Who effects, ‘Cementery Magus’ keeps the pressure on, before the sound of tweeting birds segues into ‘Your Mercury’ with its Goblin-cribbing intro. A liturgical, noirish leviathan, it builds with a solemn trumpet and tribal toms before striking with all the might and majesty of a Gothenburgian cathedral organ.

On ‘Midas Rex’, out of a palpitating bruise emerges the kind of atomising light sculpture characteristic to the Mego label sound. As quickly as it takes for the arpeggio’d synths to become discomfiting, it retreats under what sounds like breathing, and also a brush stroking hard across a canvas. Eno’s opaque but emotive melody-poems are invoked on ‘Mothlike’. Though it lasts no longer than twenty seconds, a solitary loom of melody betrays the big heart Teeth Of The Sea obscure behind that prankster image.

The track serves as perfect sedation for falling into ‘Red Soil’, which for its opening four minutes repeats the first two lines from Harry Dean Stanton’s monologue in Paris, Texas: “I knew these people / these two people”. Over tremulous strands of guitar, another man replies to the recording with either “I knew these people” or “these two people”, generating a peculiar rhythm and ratcheting up the suspense. They crown just above the clouds in heralds of screaming virgins, before a murderous finale of heavy playing, marshy bass and reckless drums evokes swooping valkyries and monstrous artillery. We’re back in nightmare territory again on ‘Horses with Hands’, and if the tap-tap of rim-hits and the sickening keyboard notes don’t get under your skin, then the rupturing bass drops and snippets of gagged weeping will. They finish with ‘Hovis Coil’ which is a disappointingly cliched slice of post-rock but ends in brilliant fashion – a surge and then STOP. Radio silence. We’ve lost signal. John Calvert

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