Teeth of the Sea – WRAITH
Occupying the same fertile underground as their Rocket Recordings stablemates, Teeth of the Sea deliver the goods once again on their latest album, Wraith
Having spent the best part of the last decade toiling at the outer reaches of what we may or may not call 'big band ambient' or 'turbo-charged post rock without tremolos', Teeth of the Sea are one of the best UK bands you’ve never heard of. That may be something of a blessing; critical praise and commercial dearth – along with a steadfast dedication to the cause – has permitted the London four-piece to deliver the goods on their own terms, slyly glancing at genre if only to learn what not to do. Occupying the same fertile underground as other Rocket Recordings acts purportedly fitting the New Weird Britain tag, Teeth of the Sea sit alongside GNOD as the current custodians of that worn mantra: always changing, always the same.
That said, there’s much of TOTS's recent past hidden in WRAITH. The industrial cyberjams of 2015’s Highly Deadly Black Tarantula are unceremoniously drained of their colour and body fat for a second go-around; blocky drum machines protrude like bones from rotting flesh on opener I’d Rather, Jack – a title which aptly recalls a forgotten quote from some grainy, blood-spattered B-movie. VISITOR unambiguously channels something more space-age, a vintage video game phrase loop doing most of the heavy lifting throughout. Here’s a ray of light on what could otherwise be read as an angry text, a celestial guest stopping by a dead planet promising ascension.
Speaking of horror, at some point it becomes improbable that any listener might escape the shadow of Brexit on WRAITH (and indeed, any work by a British band since the fateful Summer of 2016). A wraith, if a cursory Google search is to be believed, is a ghostly form seen before or after death. The song Hiraeth – a Welsh term translating to something like 'longing for a home which doesn’t exist', with the uneasy connotations of mythical, singular pasts and novelty cushions purchased from coastal town gift shops – broods and meditates with uncertain, dub-echoed trumpet and a general, weighty sense of unease. Fortean Steed, too, invokes a similarly imagined past of primordial forests and preternatural mountain folk John Cowper Powys’ dark ages hero Porius, envisioned through the acid folk troubadourism of Comus at their most psychedelic. The only thing missing is the bleating.
Listen to: I'd Rather, Jack, Hiraeth, Fortean Steed, VISITOR