Four years have passed since Sacramento-based math wierdos, Tera Melos released their last record, Xe’d out; a gap which, aside from their month-long US tour with Chon and company, earlier this year, has seen the band remain relatively quiet. Shows were sparse and, apart from the band’s frontman, six-stringer and at this point, thanks to his incredible, wildly unique playing and effects-pedal genius, leftfield-guitar god – Nick Reinhardt’s plentiful appearances all over the interwebs and occasional solo nuggets, there was no new music, so to speak.
Then finally, Chon’s homey tour was announced last April and hype quickly started bubbling up over the potential of new Tera Melos material, yet as June rolled around and the band went on tour, except for one new track played live, nothing really happened and nothing particularly was said; the bands went home and that, apparently, was that.
And then, out-of-the-blue with only three weeks before the album’s release, Tera Melos announced Trash Generator.
Trash Generator continues the band’s custom of sonically evolving with every record, yet retaining some of the qualities and idiosyncrasies of previous releases – and I would expect nothing less from such a cutting-edge band. Gone, almost entirely, is the sugary, full-sounding weirdness of, math-pop masterpiece, Xe’d out, their previous album; instead, Trash Generator places Nick’s quirky lyricism, typically revolving between an almost spoken tone and his unique, DIY falsetto, at the forefront of the music; the guitars, sounding dryer than usual, wrangle their way around sharp, angular, dissonant riffs and thrash out rapid chord progressions; the drumming feels more restrained and simplistic at times.
But despite this, it is not a characterless release – in the same way an introvert, for their lack of words, is not more characterless than an extrovert. Trash Generator feels angsty and tense; cathartic, hurried and spikey, yet at-heart warm. It sees the return, on tracks like ‘Drawing’ or ‘Warpless Run’, of Nick’s more frenetic, flying, noodly guitar leads; definite standout track, ‘A Universal Gonk’ features an awesome electronic intro section (I’ve always been a big fan of their electronic bits) and, if I’m not mistaken, some top kek, punchy sax work; while, finisher, ‘Super FX’ sees a very Xe’desque warbly, reverbed-up intro leading into a stonking riff, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 2010s Patagonian Rats, adorned lightly with Nick’s off-kilter falsetto. The fantastic, musique-concretelike, ‘GR30A11’ even adds a subtle dose of freeform, avant-garde with its hard, atonal piano, muffled hisses and scratchy, erratic samples!
Trash Generator is a great album and a righteous addition to the Tera Melos catalogue; it manages to mesh together ideas from their past with those of their latter “conventional” releases, as well as with what they want to do at present – and in doing so, still produces yet another brilliant album in its own right. I don’t know how they do it. They’re probably wizards.