Kooba Tercu’s latest album, Proto Tekno, barely needs a review. You either like cacophonous chaos like this, or you don’t. But if you do, then you’ll love Proto Tekno. It’s like a militant march of zombified Zeuhl Zoophytes callously cracking open a Can of caustic Krautrock jam, joyfully spilling it onto a canvas of noise rock. You could make comparisons to labelmates Teeth of the Sea and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, but the squall of Kooba Tercu remains fiercely unique. I’ll admit that I’d never heard of the band before this album came up for review, and I was sold on the cover art alone. Ok, you should never judge a book by its cover, but in this case the cover art for Proto Tekno perfectly projects the music within – a writhing, riotous, razing that’s simultaneously and paradoxically bright and beautiful. It’s an incredibly evocative cover, and the music follows suit.
Although an outfit living in a number of different countries, Kooba Tercu feels like its Greek origins pervade the music more than any other. When one thinks of Greece, it’s hard not to think of its rich history, famous ruins and archaeological sites. Ruins often conjure imagery of neglect, but in context with Greece, they take on grandeur instead. Something ruinous can be radiant, rather than repugnant. Kooba Tercu’s music has an aura of a world in ruin, but it’s a strangely delightful dystopia. It’s a proud declaration of being ugly, but being happy in that ugliness, and that is somehow beautiful. Yes, I just called the music on Proto Tekno beautiful. Feel free to disagree, and I’ll direct you back to the second sentence of this review.
From the fuzzed out opening blast of Benzoberry, “Johnny Tercu and his crew” let you know you’re in for a thoroughly enjoyable mind bending trip. The punningly titled Cemento Mori is as heavy as it suggests, sounding like a detuned ‘80s band sent to the bottom of the sea in concrete boots. The final moments evoke this sinking completely for me. It’s just one example of how well the music flows. I love the way the songs sound shaped, if not exactly structured, from improvisations and jams. You can hear how the band take the essence of the number, and play with it, yet never outstay their welcome. I’m not entirely sure how much of what I’m listening to is composed, and how much is improvised, but nor does that ever really matter. The music sounds free when it needs to be, and focused when it has to be, and at neither time does it sound forced. A lot of it sounds live, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the band, despite living in different countries, were all in the studio together for the recording of the album.
Filter Feeder has an Ozric Tentacles feel to it, but the tentacles probably belong to Cthulhu. It’s followed by the single Qasan, which is a fantastic choice to promote the album with. It’s bleedingly and bruisingly brutal. The vocals are right on the edge of what I can tolerate, and I’d probably enjoy this more without them, but they certainly add a tension that would be absent otherwise. This song reminds me a lot of a NZ band (High Dependency Unit) that Kooba Tercu have likely never heard of, but as HDU have long been a favourite band of mine, it goes without saying that Qasan pushes the right buttons for me. It’s a far more upbeat and rhythmical HDU – so much so that this song could never be mistaken for coming from that band – and yet, the resemblance remains for me. Is this the best track on the album? Probably not, but it is without doubt the best to have chosen as a single.
The following track, Kamehameha is perhaps the most out there on the album, and perhaps consequently, one of my favourites. But despite such weirdness as this, Proto Tekno is a surprisingly accessible album, jam-packed with song after song coming at the listener in quick succession. It’s varied and eclectic and it would appear anything is fair game, making Fair Game a good title for a track. It’s electronic, industrial and psychedelic – and it’s very good. The minimalist Boiler gains considerable impact from coming after the assault of Fair Game, and is just one more indication of how well paced and sequenced this album is. It’s easy to imagine this album as a gig, such is the live feeling of the tracks, and the way they ebb and flow. And what a show that would be, I’m sure! I’d love to see Kooba Tercu play live, as (again like their label mates Teeth of the Sea) I’m sure they’d take their already brilliant studio material to a whole new level on stage.
I’ll admit I was slightly underwhelmed, though, when I first heard the final track of the album, Puppy Pile. After the full-on aural assault that has come before, and already having wound down (so to speak), I guess I was expecting a more energetic finale. I really should have realised by now, of course, that whatever I was expecting was probably not going to eventuate. Puppy Pile is now one of my favourite tracks on Proto Tekno, so even if I correctly judged the book by its cover, this served as a reminder that first impressions are not always right.
So, here we are, at the end of the album, and the end of the review. Time to tie things up, and compile my thoughts into a neat conclusion. But, you know, I can’t be bothered. Kooba Tercu’s latest album, Proto Tekno, barely needs a review. You either like cacophonous chaos like this, or you don’t….
01. Benzoberry (3:50)
02. Cemento Mori (5:29)
03. Filter Feeder (3:44)
04. Qasan (7:26)
05. Kamehameha (4:16)
06. Fair Game (3:42)
07. Boiler (6:42)
08. Puppy Pile (4:40)
Total Time – 39:49
Johnny Tercu and his crew – All Instrumentation
Record Label: Rocket Recordings
Country of Origin: International
Date of Release: 22nd May 2020