Album Reviews - Reviews

Teebs – E s t a r a


A visual artist as well as a musician, Teebs‘ (real name Mtendere Mandowa) work naturally invites comparison between formats (despite the philosophical problems that may entail). In both, Teebs’ noisy atmospheres drip off the page, and rough but delicate multicoloured textures extend in three dimensions.

E s t a r a can be considered Teebs’ full length follow-up proper to 2010’s lauded Ardour.  It’s generally familiar territory for the Californian producer, whose use of repeated elements – certain synth sounds and drum beats are recognisably Teebs –  are mirrored by his habitual use of dripping, vibrant colours and flowers in his artwork.

The furthest Teebs strays from his previous work is in collaboration with Stones Throw Records’ Jonti on the wonderful ‘Holiday’.  It’s a wistfully washed-out number whose dreamy vocal lines and glitchy soundscape in parts sound like a West Coast cover of a half-remembered Animal Collective song (in a good way) by way of CHLL PLL.

But to use progress as a stick to beat this record with would be foolish. Teebs’ music is meditative, early transcendental stuff which has a genuine emotional depth – something which is becoming increasingly rare in electronic music. Samples of found sounds, metallic clangs and a melee of homemade shakers dovetail with mellifluous synth lines and noise-filled pads and compressed, vaguely tropical kick drums. Without wanting to burden the album with comparison, at times it is as close to Aphex Twin‘s Selected Ambient Works as it is to Brainfeeder’s back catalogue.

The record is rough around the edges, but that is precisely where its considerable beauty lies. Album ender ‘Wavxxes’ is a tantalising collaboration with Jaga Jazzist‘s Lars Horntveth, whose elegiac horns perfectly complement Teebs’ rough atmospherics and the album ends on a simple guitar and clarinet jam breaking down before Mandowa proclaims “It’s all good!”  It is the perfect moment to leave the listener with.  This is not computer music, it’s human creativity; things happen by chance
and the mistakes are often the interesting bits. Eamonn Lavery