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Teargas & Plateglass

 
Teargas & Plateglass
Teargas & Plateglass

Dark.

If this was a site for one word reviews, dark would be the word to use for the self-titled debut by electronic act Teargas & Plateglass. Eerie, filmic, grainy, gritty, dark. Back in the 90s, 'dark' was the term of choice applied to outstanding jungle or drum and bass tracks, and, while Teargas & Plateglass prefer tempos that are nearly half again slower than tech step, one can't help but make the comparison on account of mood and tasty snare rolls galore.

Many artists- in the process of creating their ongoing work- refer to the culture around them, the mood and spirit of their times, the dialogue of the cultural forces surrounding us all. Pessimism, frustration and malaise seem common enough sentiments these days if you're looking through half-empty glasses. Someone must have knocked over Teargas & Plateglass' drink, for their mood is decidedly low. Fists full of droning string lines, gritty drum samples and measured pauses add up to a soundtrack of persistent, heavy handed movie horror. It feels like now.

The cultural reference points for all of this are familiar enough, and lift this release into a high media literacy zone. Sure, there's the drum and bass context. And the downtempo references. In some ways it resembles Aphex Twin's earliest cassette work over a decade ago. Illbient. Big beat. Broken beats. Dubby echo effects. Vangelis Blade Runner. Cinematic. Atmospheric. IDM. Ghost in the Shell. DJ Shadow distilled to a soulless ghost.

A low string note sounds impossibly still for a measure, a reverb trail fades, a snare peforates the silence, either a stray gunshot or a burst from a machine gun. Maybe it was a sniper. It all tails off again into a drone that charts a course to the next beat.

The artists behind the project insist on a layer of anonymity, there are no publicity photos. A healthy dose of friends add some life to the effort, including appearances by the Prague Symphony Orchestra. King Britt and Zap Mama throw down on "911." Natacha Atlas sings a soaring siren riff for the ages on "Adam's Lullaby," riding vocal processors far off into dreamtime.

Another wash of strings, another echoing drum hit. From the minute we opened it, this release has been getting mulitiple listens daily at betterPropaganda world headquarters in San Francisco. There's a hint of silence, and then the strings and drums drop back into place.

Terbo Ted

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