On the evidence presented by Tether, Echoes of Yul would seem to like to serve their acid-fried variety of rock deeply strange, with a side order of frazzled. When the opening chords of “Rosids” have subsided into a string-dripping delayscape, and samples mutter about “Triggered echoes of flashbacks” it’s evident that there’s some serious stoner rock about to kick in, and hard. Which it does, as “Guess” gets nice and weirdly heavy, but not in the way which might be expected; yes, there are riffs, sustained chords and scratchy guitar skronk, but they are delivered with a decidedly angular bent. When the drums do crash and lurch aboard, whatever instrument(s) make that heaving sound brings nothing so much as an asthma attack to mind, all motion stalled and wheezing in an almost overpowering physical assault.If there was any one word to sum up Tether then, it’d probably be diverse. The segues between crunchy riffing and over-use of echo effects (if such a thing is really possible) and passages of darkly ambient atmospherics are handled deftly if without too much concern for the niceties of conventional rock and roll album structure. There are only four tracks performed entirely by the band, the remaining seven having been handed over to a variety of remixers (including themselves in starkly beautiful form on the surprisingly twangy “Last”) well-known or otherwise for onward deconstruction.
Which sort of behaviour edges Echoes of Yul into post-rock territory more than a more conventionally four-to-the-floor approach; and is to be applauded. This means that in the languorous murmurs of “Ecclesiastes” or when “Murder The Future” goes off on dubby tangents before dissolving into looping scurries and droning feedback, there’s something of the late Nineties and early Zeroes about their sound, though not of the Tortoise jazz-inflected variety. All of which makes it altogether unsurprising that Stendek‘s “The Message” heaves with a doomy downtempo hiphop beat slathered with layers of circling simmer like it could have been included on Kevin Martin‘s (of Techno Animal, The Bug, King Midas Sound, etc) seminal 1994 Ambient 4: Isolationism collection. Likewise, when the same source material gets an iconAclass makeover as “The Mission,” his heavily-effected mordant flow could have easily graced Martin’s Macro Dub Infection series, though Dälek have long perfected their own take on bleakly pessimistic rap iconography.Bleak could apply just as well to James Plotkin‘s crackly splatterfest “The Stand” too for that matter, the drums sounding like smacked oildrums disappearing into a gathering ice storm, the bass brought up to gut-churning levels as the riffs grind with the uncaring inevitability of a blind idiot god. While not nearly as crushingly evil as Plotkin’s band Khanate would be, it comes close; and there’s plenty to make the listener check their intestinal fortitude as squittering sounds engender some decidedly unwholesome sensations.
Steve Austin‘s “Cold Ground” lets the effects do their thing, squeezing every last delay and reverb out of the soundscape in a miasmic grind through arrhythmia which keeps a sludgy beating heart lurking at its core. Maciek Szymczuk takes “The Tenant” on a vapour-trail flight in slow motion, while “Down Deal Load” finds Different State deconstructing matters into a slew of echoplexed vibrato and reverberating percussion which develops into pleasant orchestral electronica.
All of which makes Tether a singularly worthwhile way to bend the ears, rarely standing still long enough to be pinned down and an excellent example of how to include remixes at the core of an album as a form of grand collaboration.