Techno doom, electro metal, dub psych, industrial prog, prog techno, doom psych, metal dub, doom prog disco…Teeth Of The Sea have been spinning reviewers’ genre-wheel for a decade plus now. Once they were even tagged as ‘android kestrels’ ….try to find that section on the rack. What you can take from this is that here we have a band content to tangle the lines of electronic psychedelic noise rock and re-wire just because they can.
With each album since 2009, there’s been shifts and shimmies that have taken the London based group from the pub circuit to international film festivals to SXSW. The epic and seminal ceremonial ‘MASTER’ in 2013, the lurch to the live electric rawness of ‘Highly Deadly Black Tarantula’ in 2015, 2019’s Morricone-tinged, wide screen expansionism of ‘Wraith’ and now comes the next tide-turning Teeth Of The Sea album ‘Hive’. Available through the ever-faithful Rocket Recordings, the key TOTS players (Sam Barton, Mike Bourne and Jimmy Martin) focus hard on more deep drilling into their kaleidoscopic influences on this new release. Avant disco, post rock, cinematic snatches, sci fi, glitz, trash and sound-art all rush around the multi-layered ‘Hive’ chambers.
Take Get with the Program as it breaks out from a shrill synth warning to the throb of big beat bumps then wraps itself in sheets of the dark wave orchestration. It’s a tight song structure that doesn’t forget to get back to the main riff in a drop that Conny Plank would enjoy, while Mike Bourne’s sardonic vocals gruffly asks ‘How does it feel?’. You get the feeling the answer’s not ‘fine’. There’s a hint of later stage Cabaret Voltaire here which soon gets flushed away as the band glide into the breezy synth pop of ‘Butterfly House’. It’s an off-kilter move for Teeth Of The Sea with Kath Gifford’s uncluttered vocal easing you back to those Stereolab days of avant easy listening. Of course there’s a twist, as the tune bops along to a steady 80’s drum thwack Jimmy Martin’s guitar strides in, first with a volley of rock-funk chord swipes and then an authentic, banshee shred. Playful or provoking the song maybe surprises but as the world of ‘Hive’ reveals more, it sinks blissfully into the soundscape.
Elsewhere on this new adventure, Teeth Of The Sea skirt close to early 90’s post rave territory but their inventiveness make this far from a retro move, it’s more of a reclaim of that boundless spirit. Powerhorse may begin with a glistening wash of orchestral electronica but introductions over we’re into no-hurry sauntering beats, a seriously doomy bass-synth and trippy spoken messages, melancholic about “the future, the past”. Similarly the energetic Liminal Kin focuses on a techno sensibility with the flux and flutter of prime drum and bass plus Bourne’s spooky distortion dipped vocal. Still the band do find room for their own significant detail. Psychedelic organ fills that swirl to the coda and Sam Barton’s singing trumpet lines, which bookend the track, inject the necessary freshness.
At the heart of ‘Hive’ are three tracks re-configured from a Teeth Of The Sea soundtrack commission, performed ‘live’ at a London’s Science Museum screening of the ‘Apollo Moon Shot’ doc. The album opener Artemis magics up the stillness of space with blips of communicating codes, starry Sakamoto-esque synth patterns and Barton’s unfussy trumpet call. If anything Æther expands further, the horn bending with hope over rippling swathes of synth harmonics. A lonely drum beat and some innocent auto-vocal add to the ’one small step’ drama of it all. It fits that Apollo closes the album and marks the final part of the sub plot with a stunning spread of post-rock big music. Martin’s majestic guitar patterns and Barton’s yearning trumpet re-imagine those slow -pan shots.
This trio of compositions seem to give the album a spine, a thematic and musical framework that provide the other songs on ‘Hive’ direction and leverage to explore. Perhaps the pulsating industrial Megafragma leads by example. Here nothing is held back as the assertive bass-bin techno gathers pace, bristling with fractured samples, scratchy echoes. alien vocals and an unrelenting commitment to sequence. There’s a moment when the click beat doubles up with the lower end drive which meets Underworld intensity head on. It’s prickly, addictive and dangerous, proof that Teeth Of The Sea have scuffed up their sound in the best Vega/Rev kind of way.
This new album finds Teeth Of The Sea once again re-booting and re-calibrating with impressive results but importantly they maintain the integrity of their sound. The band negotiate the complex tessellations between alt rock and electronic music with panache and avoid sounding dated. Their ‘Hive’ is a whole other-world.
Get your copy of ‘Hive’ by Teeth Of The Sea form your local record store or direct from Rocket Recordings HERE
Teeth Of The Sea are touring the UK now – see them at:
13/10/2023 UK Preston The Ferret
14/10/2023 UK Newcastle The Lubber Fiend
20/10/2023 UK Manchester White Hotel w/Hey Colossus
21/10/23 UK Birmingham Asylum
22/10/2023 UK Glasgow Hug & Pint
28/10/2023 UK Bristol Crofters Rights
18/11/2023 UK Ramsgate Ramsgate Music Hall w/Smote, Alison Cotton