Teeth Of The Sea know that genuine progression rarely goes in a straight line.
So their music doesn't exactly follow logical paths either; influenced by post-punk, dub, techno and more, new album 'Wraith' is a striking, crunching, titanic return.
Out on February 22nd, it finds the group expanding from their core disciplines, welcoming new collaborators in the process.
As a result Erol Alkan assists on 'I'd Rather, Jack' while the album also features Valentina Magaletti (Tomaga/Raime/Vanishing Twin) supplying Reichian percussion, alongside Chlöe Herington (ChromeHoof/Knifeworld/Valve) and Katharine Gifford (The Wargs/Snowpony/Stereolab).
Out in just a few days, Clash has obtained the full first play of 'Wraith', and it's a sterling aural achievement, a real feast of complex ideas iterated in true clarity.
Check it out now, then find a Track By Track guide penned by Teeth Of The Sea.
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I'd Rather, Jack
We had a running joke about needing a track with a 'jackable' beat and Mike definitely came up with the goods on that front here, hence the title. Quite a key moment in terms of writing the record, it wasn't the first tune we came up with but it had a really positive, palate cleansing quality that served as a catalyst for other tracks to start tumbling out.
The actual recording/mixing process with Erol (Alkan) was great as well, our natural inclination as a band is to be really maximalist, add layer upon layer of parts but Erol was much more about stripping things out, allowing the parts to breathe & finding the atmospheres and textures that worked. An existential banger.
This was the first tune we wrote together since 'Highly Deadly….' and therefore the first we ever wrote just as the three of us. We've talked about dub being an influence before (in terms of atmosphere, repetition, approach in the studio etc) but this is by far the most overt example of it as a direct musical touchstone. We're all fans of stuff like The Bug and JK Flesh which are definitely in there, and the oft stated Morricone influence really comes to the fore here too.
We had a lot of fun in the studio with this one, Giles (Barrett - engineer/mixer extraordinaire) hooked up the snare sound to his massive old AKG spring reverb unit and we got some fantastic and unsettling results out of that.
I love the narrative arc of the track too, it really tells a story but never explodes or hits an epiphany, rather it takes you on a walk through a beleaguered British cityscape very much in the here and now. It’s dismal, paranoid and melancholic, but with shards of light cutting through in the gaps.
Burn Of The Shieling
Over the past few years I’ve been digging into a lot of stuff that has a certain bucolic ‘Englishness’ to it, be it These New Puritans' 'Field Of Reeds', James Holden's 'The Inheritors', Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending or Alan Clarke's Penda's Fen. There's a complexity and deep sadness to all those works that resonates and serves as an antidote to the reductive and delusional 'patriotism' that now seems to be an ever present cultural force.
So this is basically an attempt to similarly connect with the landscape and the complicated way it shapes identity. The title 'Burn Of The Shieling' is something I saw on a map in north Scotland, it basically means 'the stream that runs through the settlement'. I really love the way those words fall and it seemed to fit the music well.
Over the years I’ve also become weirdly obsessed with the song ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ by Simon & Garfunkel - I think it started when I heard it on the soundtrack to The Graduate. I love the arrangement, the combination of the eerie and the traditional, and the way the multiple narratives overlap.
This song started as an attempt essentially to rip off both that and ‘The Donor’ by Judee Sill, which also has haunting canon style vocals as well as Judee’s trademark quasi-religious aspect. The idea of doing a tune like that had been knocking around for years, but I wanted it to be kindof half pastoral, half extra terrestrial in a sense.
Kath Gifford - whose voice I’ve always loved - somehow took all of this and was game to make some sense of it for the vocals, and I was blown away by what she came up with.
There’s a movie from 1979 called Stridulum (AKA The Visitor) about a girl with telekinetic powers who triggers off a battle between God and The Devil for her services. We watched it a while back and loved it - it’s one of those movies that makes very little sense but this is immaterial as you can lose yourself in the preposterous operatic set pieces and flagrant melodrama.
This over-the-top-to-the-point/of-absurdity aspect was the kind of approach we felt we were using on this one. Once we had the central synth arpeggio the rest appeared from nowhere and we came up with the basic structure in one night - listening back to the original demo for me was the moment I knew this album was going to be a killer. Then we hijacked our favourite drummer, Valentine Magaletti, to play on it, and it mushroomed from there.
This was a strange unknowable mood-piece which again evolved from improvising, We ended up gravitating towards some kind of ritualistic vibe here - shades of that creepy denouement of the movie Kill List, particularly with the drumming. Really though this is was another track that seemed to have a life of its own, or was driven by forces we didn’t understand.
Wraiths In The Wall
With apologies to H.P. Lovecraft.
Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World
This is a love song of sorts, believe it or not, albeit one through a typically skewed lens. I wanted to create a track that evoked that feeling or emotion that over time becomes so utterly overwhelming there’s nothing you can do to stop it; your heart’s pounding through your chest, you’re shaking, and you can’t breath. Terror and euphoria at the same time, like you’re drowning.
‘Gladiators Ready’ was the working title for the album before we settled on the slightly more sensible ‘Wraith’ and, like the track, it really encapsulates the Teeth Of The Sea ethos as its immediate association is a bit daft and naff, but stripped of its original context it takes on an entirely different meaning.
Sticking a filthy acid arpeggio into what’s essentially a rock track shouldn’t really work, but that would never stop us trying it anyway. In this case it birthed a chimeric banger that’ll melt your face clean off so, you know, result!
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'Wraith' will be released on February 22nd.
Catch Teeth Of The Sea at the following shows:
23 Rouen le 3 Pièces
24 Liège Le Garage
26 Nantes La Schene Michelet
27 Lille La Malterie
28 Gent Charlatan
1 Leicester The Sound House *New date
2 London Moth Club
12 Todmorden Golden Lion
13 Manchester Soup Kitchen
26 Ramsgate Ramsgate Music Hall
27 Bristol Rough Trade
26 Cardiff Psych & Noise Fest
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