Wraith sees London-based post-electronic pioneers Teeth Of The Sea taking a step away from the noise inflected menace of their earlier work following the departure of Mat Colegate after 2015’s Highly Deadly Black Tarantula (both Rocket Records). Yet their latest outing feels like the answer to a challenge, of sorts. In its absence, the progressive, playfully experimental composition style (paired with an often unapologetically wry approach to theme) brings to the fore the bands inherently theatrical bent. The result is something akin to the lost soundtrack to a late 90s Indie, cyber-Punk thriller.
Wraith’s introduction – the obliquely titled ‘I’d Rather, Jack’ – is a blunt, unwavering electronic beat, heralding a bold melodic overture (a movement that is later mirrored at the album’s conclusion by its gritty counterpart ‘Gladiators Ready’). This is followed by the subdued tension of ‘Hiraeth’, a darkly intoned piece that sees the ever prominent brass elements vying with Helios Creed’s guitars in an unmistakable tribute to Ennio Morricone. But it’s the third movement, the ponderous, eerie ‘Burn Of The Sheiling’, and the subsequent lapse into the dreamlike madrigal of ‘Fortean Steed’, that seems to mark the true extent of this recent shift of tone.
This departure from their previous incarnation is cemented at the halfway point. The fifth track, ‘VISITOR’ marks yet another change in pace – hitting a frenetic, spacey synth-loop morphing into an expansive, progressive piece reminiscent of passages of Gong’s 1974 album You (Virgin). However, one of the greatest surprises of the album – and perhaps its most notable statement – is the fact that its penultimate track. ‘Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World’, invoking the final, nihilistic paean of 1988’s Tetsuo: The Iron Man, bypasses entirely the love letter to Chu Ishikawa one might have anticipated and cuts straight to fundamental matter of Shinya Tsukamoto’s vision; the track’s melancholic looping of synths, mechanic hissing and distant peals of wailing brass conveying perfectly the alien coldness of a world after humanity.
In all, the album is a solid work and stands as testament to a band who remain a unique entity on the modern electronic music landscape. And while the darker shades of their previous line-up is something certainly to be missed, Wraith serves as a reminder that Teeth Of The Sea are still very much forging their own strange and unpredictable creative trajectory.
7 / 10