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Sun March 30, 2014
First Listen: Teebs, 'E S T A R A'
Originally published on Tue April 8, 2014 11:03 am
Teebs is a signature member of the collective surrounding Brainfeeder, an iconoclastic electronic label stationed in L.A. As per the habits of its exploratory founder Flying Lotus, it's big into refractions of beats and bass. Most of the roster, in different ways, favors the peculiar and the strange, but it's all very heady, too. (It's called Brainfeeder as opposed to Brainbender or Braineraser.) Teebs, for his part, steers toward luxurious sadness and wistful contemplation, with a sense of nostalgia in the mix.
E S T A R A shares a lot, in terms of tempo and tone, with Boards of Canada's long-reigning masters of electronic melancholia. "The Endless" opens with a short snippet of grainy wavering, like an old synth recording rescued from a ribbon of tape flapping on a reel, before "View Point" kicks in with some rhythm to suggest a sense of purpose. The beats are subtle and forceful at once, there to serve as guideposts or subjects for fixation, depending on your mood. They stay about the same in measures of intensity, whether in a quasi-pop song like "Holiday" (featuring Animal Collective-esque vocals by Jonti) or a bleary-eyed ambient meditation like "NY Pt. 1."
No futurist, Teebs seems to yearn for New Age music, or at least remnants of it that have returned to prominence in ways that are both problematic (see: sounds reminiscent of rainsticks) and inspiring (see: a deep sense of caring and consideration for matters of pretty much every sort). "Shoouss Lullaby" brushes up against New Age tropes warmly, with acoustic guitar enlisted in a delicate mix, but there's more to break off and probe in "SOTM" and "Hi Hat." Each is an interesting and deeply invested fusion of industrial and pastoral sounds that Teebs manages to make his own.