Teeth Of The Sea – Wraith

London based trio Teeth Of The Sea would be an ideal band to soundtrack the forthcoming apocalypse, what with their nightmarish yet strangely groovy missives, last evidenced on 2015’s essential Highly Deadly Black Tarantula, a howl of techno-rage at the unforgiving world, which found itself becalmed in the final track Love Theme For 1984, which set a scene of post-nightmare industrial bliss-out. Four years on and we have Wraith, which, as the title might suggest, is a more ephemeral proposition, and it seems to continue where the cinematic sweeps of Love Theme… left off.

Spooky goings on during the recording sessions weave their way into the soul of this album, and like ghosts in the machine envelop the thing in an unsettling shroud. A nervous energy permeates the slightly atypical uptempo album opener, I’d Rather, Jack which is set in a chillout zone underneath industrial arches in some forgotten murky corner of the capital, a place where waifs and strays gather to forget the daily grind, and cover the walls in vivid spray-painted art, straight from the heart. The instrumental break might be a strangulated guitar, it’s hard to say, and like everything else about this band is beyond definition, which is fine by me.

A keening trumpet appears in Hiraeth, and that instrument takes a major role in painting the otherworldly atmosphere throughout the album. The near subsonic electronic bass pulse on this track is a joy, but then again I’ve always been a sucker for dub. A virtual reality Hank Marvin later appears and does not seem the slightest bit incongruous. This track is seven minutes of languorous post-Portishead horror show sonics that will lull you into a nicely receptive state. Leave those synapses open, baby.

Ethereal multi-tracked female voices smokily caress Fortean Steed, and elsewhere contributions from Chlöe Hetherington (Knifeworld, etc – reeds) and Katharine Gifford (Stereolab & others – vocals) fill out the already tumultuous soundscape. VISITOR justifies its bold uppercase with a vast cinemascape over an insistent sequencer that Klaus Schulze would be proud of.

The appearance of the wraiths is led by Her Wraith, and for the most part these ghostly companions seem benign. Are they trying to tell us something? Something we’ve forgotten in our current inward-looking self-obsession? Led by a reverbed piano figure and a very muted trumpet way down in the mix, she floats around as we stop our headlong rush into the abyss to gaze in wonder. Elegiac trumpet heralds the realisation that in the grand scheme of things we are but a passing minor disturbance to the equilibrium.

Gladiators Ready signs off were we came in and is a call to arms for the next phase of the struggle, the relentless bass drum leading some glorious tooled up guitar’n’synth sturm and drang into the arena to do battle with complacency.

At once contemplative and disturbing, Wraith is proof that modern music making can be as progressive in spirit as it has the courage to be. This is not prog.

01. I’d Rather, Jack (4:55)
02. Hiraeth (7:07)
03. Burn of the Shieling (4:40)
04. Fortean Steed (3:59)
05. VISITOR (8:21)
06. Her Wraith (6:38)
07. Wraiths In The Wall (0:26)
08. Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World (3:36)
09. Gladiators Ready (7:09)

Total Time – 46:58

Sam Barton – Trumpet
Mike Bourne – Bass, Synthesiser
Jimmy Martin – Guitar, Vocals
[… probably, and no doubt lots of electronic wotsits from all three!]
~ with:
Chlöe Hetherington – Reeds
Katharine Gifford – Vocals
Valentina Magaletti – Drums & Percussion (tracks 2 & 5)

Record Label: Rocket Recordings
Catalogue#: LAUNCH154
Date of Release: 22nd February 2019

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