Teeth Of The Sea are one of those rare bands that makes 99% of music look as if it isn’t trying hard enough. Now with 3 incredible albums under their belts, they have become key players in the psych scene. They scored a massive hit at the Liverpool Psych Fest, heading up the Camp part of the Camp & Furnace on Saturday night and getting a huge garage of sweaty, happy psych heads dancing. Where did Teeth Of The Sea begin? Well, let’s take a trip back to 2009 and spin their debut album, Orphaned By The Ocean.
Part experimental noise, part harsh space rock and part soul stirring er, jazz trumpet. How would you make comparisons? A cross between Throbbing Gristle, Hawkwind and Chet Baker?!
‘Only Fool On Horse’ separates the wheat from the chaff, the psychonauts from the hipsters, with a full on drone fest before… that trumpet. A mournful, haunting, languid, gorgeous trumpet elegy. Like a combination of jazz and industrial, this is a horrific, nerve shredding trip. Would be perfect for soundtracking some of the dates I have been on.
‘Latin Inches’ offers delicate keys before a triumphant spaghetti western riff. The drum kick into a harsh mechanical beat. All in all it sounds like a steampunk cowboy’s final day on Earth. A vocal harmony calls from the next valley. The drums quicken in pace as the song passes the 5 minute milestone, then ominous stabs of bass underline our transition into the arid badlands.
‘Swear Blind The Alsatian’s Melting’ rides to glory on the wings of yet more sensational trumpet playing. Then waves of guitar noise and evil bass carry it onwards. Such beauty and such evil in close proximity, like a William Blake painting. Then halfway through the drums get frisky and metal guitar’s kick the door in, leaving the song to blast off and finish in an unplanned destination.
‘Dreadnought’ starts with another heart-rending trumpet clarion call. Every song has the best trumpet on it, deciding is not actually possible. Here it is thoughtful and emotional, but not sentimental. The trumpet is supported by moody atmospherics: foggy washes of electronica. The genius of Teeth Of The Sea is that the experimental is tempered with the melodic. Much ‘experimental’ music remains unlistened to as it is a chore, Teeth Of The Sea recognise that in order for music to reach people, you have to make music that people want to listen to.
‘Sentimental Journey’ sounds almost New Age-ish except with creepy vocal loops. What sounds like a harmonica duets with flat, clanging drums that build in intensity. Another soundscape that sounds like a barren wilderness. Post punk neon-scarred bass takes us into the abyss.
Orphaned By The Ocean showcases a band at the start of a journey. Dense, downbeat and highly evocative, this is a path that leads (so far, to MASTER).
If this is post rock then it replaces Sigur Ros’ wide eyed awestruck-at-beauty with an agoraphobic’s fear of wide, open spaces. If this is space rock the band gets travel sick. What this band loves is noise and textures. Their music is like rushing up to the toppings in an ice cream parlour and thrusting your into the caramel, the hundreds and thousands, the little silver ball bearings. Subsequent albums would see them hone their craft, learn how to refine their epic tendencies and move towards filling a dancefloor, but the beauty of combining opposites is what makes this album thrilling.