[ download ]
Emerging from the synthesizer-spangled space between Miami Horror and Washed Out comes Teeel, the new recording moniker of Trenton, New Jersey’s Jim Smith. Teel’s debut LP, Amulet, was released last month by the Moodgadget imprint (home to previously featured acts including The Young Friends, JDSY, and Foxes in Fiction). Moodgadget aptly describes the band’s sound as “dreambeat”–a more defined, synth-pop leaning take on the better facets of the recent chill-wave phenomenon.
The first of Amulet‘s nine songs is “Triangle Waves,” a soft cloud of a tune anchored by a barely-there drum machine beat. Atop this spacious base, Smith builds a nest of different synthesizer tracks: one to hammer home a digital bass line, one to provide the track’s melodic thrust, and a third to shimmer across the surface like a shifting pattern of refracted light. Smith’s vocals are understated and given the effective (although admittedly rather expected) treatment of delay and reverb effects; even if it isn’t a surprising tactic, there can be no denying it is a good fit. “Triangle Waves” floats along like a dream if you’ll allow it to but it can also hold you in rapt attention, too.
It’s becoming more and more difficult to know where exactly to situate a song like “Triangle Waves” in terms of influence and historical context, except perhaps in the here and now. There are undoubtedly shades of early keyboard toting paragons such as Pet Shop Boys and O.M.D., sure, but it is just as difficult to imagine Teeel’s sound developing without a supplemental diet of Cut Copy and Deastro. In the end, that can only be a good thing for music–a reality where the lines of influence are more hazily drawn as new artists begin to incorporate sounds from a more far-reaching span of time and a fuller spectrum of musical forebears, perhaps without even being aware of doing so.