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The drummer is dead! Long live the drummer!: Teeth of the Sea live in London

18 February 2016, 10:42 | Written by Geoff Cowart

The drummer is dead! Long live the drummer!

Anyone penetrating the murky gloom of Electrowerkz on Saturday night was treated to two accomplished London bands going commando – in musical terms that’s having no drummer to hold your shit together. It was an interesting experiment. But ultimately, it was doomed to failure. Here’s why.

Teeth of the Sea are going swimmingly after the Rocket Recordings band released their impressive new album, Highly Deadly Black Tarantula, last November. The quartet has successfully carved out an impressive – if unlikely niche – for their searching sonic tomfoolery, electronic manipulations, screaming and, erm, fanciful trumpet playing.

Launching in with "All My Venom", the opening track on Highly Deadly, it found the group at their best in setting the mood – all drama and tension, no filter. But as their headline slot wore on and more album tracks were strutted out, the less the band were able to harness the room. It just sounded thin and lacked the necessary power and depth that a drummer would have brought to the party. Yes, singer/shouter Matthew Colegate did pummel a few drums on Animal Manservant and certainly sprayed the room with an adequate amount of saliva to force the issue nicely.

But it just didn’t seem enough. Something was missing. And they certainly weren’t helped by the dreamy dirge of tune Love Theme for 1984, which regrettably filled the central point in their seven-song set. If nothing else, it forfeited the momentum that they had built up nicely after the licks of "Field Punishment" were doled out.

Things got more spirited again for a crunchy "Acronym", where the crowd was once again teased with a bit of drums were on offer to propel a motoric groove that got necks close to snapping point. However, their decision to segue into the trumpet-heavy "Responder" yet again failed to build on the oppressive groove they had established.

And by the time they reached the often-frenzied finale of "Reaper", it all just seemed a bit flat with the dominating use the electronics and major chord trumpet fills grating on the nerves. A greater emphasis on the traditional guitar/drums/bass axis of evil could have turned this night into more than an excursion into the negative space of their adventurous, if limited, sound world.

Their partners in percussive crime on Saturday night were the veteran band Ramleh, who modestly filled the support slot. The formidable unit, who have been melting brains since 1982, were also cruising on the back of their new impressive double album Circular Time on American label Crucial Blast.

But if you were expecting to hear the trio let rip with their stoned super grooves on Saturday night, all you got was a Whitehouse-inspired wall of noise from Anthony Di Franco and Gary Mundy. Shit hot drummer Martyn Watts who is the fucking glue on Circular Time was nowhere to be seen. And he was missed.

Without their rhythmic anchor, the duo ran amok in a force field of sonic headfuckery and did quite a good job of it. But it lacked variety and depth. And most importantly, it lacked the drums that make Circular Time such a blast.

Sure, a good night was had by all. But a great night was only a couple of drummers away.

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