If you’re looking for a blast of pure, progressive, post-rock energy, te’ is, and always has been, ready to pump you up. Well into their second decade, the energetic Japanese quintet occupies a small slice of the genre, shared by only a few ~ Zankyo label mates Mudy on the Sakuban, mouse on the keys and a few others. There’s more than a hint of hardcore in here, even some punk, and a whole lot of attitude, perhaps hidden here by the mature cover art. This is music for pumping the fists, banging the head, slam dancing, and driving down the road at top speed ~ although preferably not all at once.
The band’s first three releases all looked the same, the only difference being the color scheme. And up until now, all of the album titles have been complex. The new EP demonstrates a new linguistic leanness, while the music continues to be muscular and adrenalized. Those who miss the seemingly non-sensical titles will find them in translation. (Sample: “Reika’s purity loses the puppet of ‘red flame’ and inscribes a proclamation to Akurei”.) Who knows, right? Better to turn the music up and drown out all sense. It’s easy to do when one has 22 minutes with approximately 100 riffs and 200 time signatures ~ or at least that’s what it feels like when listening. The amazing thing is how the band continues to pack so much into so little using their sonic shoehorn. Even without the extremes of dynamic contrast (the band only occasionally drops below 160 b.p.m.), te’ manages to provide the impression of internal variance. The breakdowns are there, albeit only a few seconds long, but rely more on the dropping of instruments than the slowing of tempos. The middle piece offers a fine example, thinning out the sound to focus on the drums and intricate guitar work. “Reika” shifts from a “Paint it Black” riff to a 192-b.p.m. racer to a five-note Metallica banger in a manner of seconds, then teases the latter segment with dying drum rolls before giving in once again. Only the closer adopts a “regular” rock pace, although it lasts only for a minute and twelve seconds before doubling, splitting in half and re-doubling. It’s the closest thing te’ has to a comedown ~ like switching from a double expresso to a single expresso.
Uptight? Stressed out? In need of an outlet? Cue up Kai and let it rip. (Richard Allen)