Summer is typically a time for Jeeps and beaches, but if life starts to get a little too bright, and the happy faces are too much to take, this cassette provides a lovely dark alternative. With a name like Teeth Engraved With the Names of the Dead, one hopes that the music will live up to the name ~ and it does. It’s a sneak peek of October while the leaves are still in bloom.
The four tracks (three five-minute works and a 15-minute closer) flow together like patches of sludge in a polluted stream. Debris is caught in the wake and crashes into other debris at regular intervals. While one would not swim in this stream, one might still be fascinated by the floating devastation, the sheer inversion of all that is pretty and pristine. The swirling, wind-like drones and carefully placed percussive effects provide their own manner of beauty, one that can be appreciated by anyone with a broken or brooding heart.
For most of the album, the distortions are held in check. Chords sputter and surge; the red levels rise without overflowing. Even the semi-piercing tones of “Worship the Desert” stop short of the off-putting. This welcome restraint sets up the extended title track, which begins as the most placid of pieces before falling into a five-minute segment that sounds like an improperly burned CD trying to force its loudest tones through the speakers. The finale of “Above/Below” is difficult to enjoy, yet easy to appreciate: it’s the sound of disintegration. Those who have been through the wringer this summer – those to whom flowers and sunshine are an anathema – will be grateful that these two strangers understand. (Richard Allen)