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Tarwater – Dwellers On The Threshold

Label: Kitty-Yo (Europe) Mute (North America) Format: CD/LP

Tarwater - Dwellers On The ThresholdTarwater return, enigmatic and phlegmatic as ever with Dwellers On The Threshold, charting journeys across an imaginary landscape of shifting borderlands and elusive edges. Opening with the hypnotic and immediately engaging “70 Rupies To Paradise Road”, with words spoken on this occasion by Tone Avenstroup, it is apparent that there is something special about this record.

Partly thanks to a commitment to keeping the intruments and samples clean and crisply redolent of themselves when necessary, as opposed to a set of electronic processes, and mostly to a finely-judged sense of dramatic tension and restrain, Tarwater unfurl a series of looped enigmas set within puzzlingly fetching production values. Lush without being overdone, their sound is curiously distant and engaging at the same time, like being asleep in a throng of intrigue and storytelling, lulled away from reality while being immersed in the further reaches of its subconscious expression.

Each cyclical, droning strum or reedy keyboard insertion, phased and flanged mouth harp, tabla surprise e-piano chord and clicking rhythmic tic propels the sense of heightened perception through swells of almost painfully emotive states of unfulfilled revelation, musical or lyrical – Dwellers On The Threshold is a record which defies analysis on the level of understanding just what is meant by elliptical lyrics like “Earth, Moon – 1985”. Instead, the sweeping surges of electronic strings around Roland Lippok‘s matter-of-fact yet otherworldly voice complement the refined Tarwater musical style in a now broadly electronic-acoustic format. The organic constructions of synthesizer and audibly-slid guitar or a blinking, trebly UFO keyboard forming the marvellously jagged heart of pieces like “Tesla” and “Now” fizz with alien charm, and only it heightens the sense of weirdness when Lippok starts deadpan rap about “Space Brothers and Space Sisters” and how “It’s not easy being a God” as a snaking analogue warble trips the ultraviolet fantastic. Perhaps Tarwater are a band who have fallen to Earth?

Toylike and shot through with a certain amount of wistful, knowing naïveté, Dwellers On The Threshold is a record to savour, to slide into its lateral worldview and share some strange tales of half-glimpsed lives; to partake of some of the better musical quirkiness on offer from Tarwater in a world which mostly offers nothing but recycled pap is not only often a palpable joy, but probably an actual necessity.

-Linus Tossio-

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