published in The Wire No.433, London, 2020
Tetema - Hobert (2017)


In a bloated present wherein every record cites 10 other artists, and every record review cites 10 other artists for each track on the record, it's maybe time to acknowledge that this is not a strategy of choice, but a condition of the landscape. Accordingly, I review Tetema's second LP Necroscape as a rock band releasing a record containing 13 tracks. This is further warranted by Tetema being directed by Anthony Pateras, whose projects and release schedule is on par with the band's vocalist, one Mike Patton. Both reference a plethora of composers, genres, styles and tropes in their avant-gardism, and each has arguably suffered critics' inability to assemble their vast output into holistic scaffolding for clarifying individual artistic personae.

Taken as an 'adventure in sound and music' to quote a certain publication, we're in the territory of expanded technique, tonal hyper-sensitivity, lowercase articulation and improvisational responsivity. But while "Necroscape" concords with that criteria, maybe it isn't that at all. Maybe it's the current manifestation of, say, the arch spotlighting of individual instrumentation in Roxy Music's "Remake/Remodel". For Tetema, let it be noted, is a band. Being fortunate enough to have seen their only live performance in Hobart in 2017, the power of these four high-calibre musicians locked into song format precision and a proto-Prog integration rings throughout Necroscape.

Electric violinist Erkki Veltheim swishes harmonic glissandos which sparkle amidst the murmuring sound, while drummer Will Guthrie releases small cymbalistic flourishes. Underneath it all, there's microscopic whispering, ferreting, scurrying - some if it distended through reverberation, other details mixed at an inaudible threshold.Necroscape's opening titular track lays everything out for the ears like a sonic blueprint for this 4-piece band. Anthony Pateras delicately strikes single high keys on the grand piano, simultaneously unfurling subtle synth mirages. With each ringing tone, Mike Patton articulates unadorned pitches in a faux-sacred yet unironic manner.


Text © Philip Brophy. Images © respective copyright holders.