TELEFON TEL AVIV: Immolate Yourself (BPitch Control)


Posted on Jan 9th 2009 01:32 am

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Telefon Tel Aviv: Immolate Yourself

Immolate Yourself
BPitch Control 2008
10 Tracks. 46mins12secs

Joshua Eustis and Charlie Cooper have the tendency to create a nicely laid out little world for themselves with every new album, only to tear it to pieces and move the goal post in totally unexpected directions with the next.

Announced soberly on their myspace page last April in a post entitled ‘The new LP’, with the straight to the point comment ‘It’s finished’, Immolate Yourself is a strong departure from the chilled atmospheres of the pair’s somewhat disappointing second album, Maps Of What Is Effortless, released in 2004. Having first cast a gentle glow over dreamy electronica on their debut opus, Fahrenheit Fair Enough (2001), they retreated into less adventurous territories with their sophomore effort. Having delivered their former label, Chicago’s Hefty, one last shot with Remixes Compiled, collecting the pair’s reworkings of tracks by people as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, Apparat, American Analogue Set or Phil Ranelin, TTA have landed on Ellen Allien’s Berlin-based BPitch Control and adopted a resolutely more upfront and upbeat sound.

Like with Maps, TTA rely heavily on vocals throughout Immolate Yourself, but Eustis and Cooper have discarded guitars and glitched-up electronica in favour of a much more purely electro palette, applying it to songs that are overall much more adapted to the dance floor than the lounge. Album opener The Birds takes a while to build up momentum, but when it finally reaches its cruising speed, it has become an evocative piece of euphoric electronic pop. This is a process that is repeated in various forms all the way through, from the syncopated Detroit-fuelled Stay Away From Being Maybe to the heavy duty Helen Of Troy or the contrasted Your Mouth, sounding at times like some mutant electro pop contaminated by post-industrial techno and occasional washes of ambient.

While Telefon Tel Aviv do not display much of the cinematic sound that fuelled their previous efforts, Immolate Yourself is every bit as ambitious and expensive. Take the moody Mostly Translucent for instance. It may sound quiet and underwhelming at first, but TTA build layer after layer of sonic elements and slowly create a dense and sombre piece in part reminiscent of Apparat, and the sister tracks Your Every Idol, one of the rare instrumentals here, with its omnipresent drum motifs and looping melody, and the haunting and electrifying You Are The Worst Thing In The World, which casts a circling melody over lush analogue soundscapes, are undoubtedly the highlights of this album.

Recorded over the course of a year, Immolate Yourself is very much a departure from the Hefty-era Telefon Tel Aviv, but Josh Eustis and Charlie Cooper have devised a sound that’s at once contemporary and timeless. Vocals often remain shrouded in sonic fog, but this actually contributes to giving this album a moody touch, even when at its most upbeat. Refreshed and revived, Telefon Tel Aviv have produced with this third album their most enjoyable and enduring record to date.


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Comments (6)

6 Responses to “TELEFON TEL AVIV: Immolate Yourself (BPitch Control)”

  1. Timon 16 Jan 2009 at 4:03 am

    Good review….
    I think they guy in the band’s name is Josh Eustis, not Josh Curtis

  2. themilkmanon 17 Jan 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Oops. thanks for spotting this.

  3. Johnon 21 Jan 2009 at 12:42 am

    Their sophomore album is titled Map of What is Effortless, not Maps. I disagree with it being somewhat disappointing (reviewer’s opinion or common consensus?). Map of What is Effortless takes the in-your-face pure electronic glitch of Fahrenheit Fair Enough, lessens its intensity, and then spreads it over a variety of drum/vocal/instrument layers. And then there’s a live orchestra. Musically and electronically, Map is a superb album, one that can be revisited repeatedly with its stacks of nuanced glitch subtlety, making it one of my favorite all-time albums. What disappoints me about Immolate Yourself is that Telefon Tel Aviv removed the remarkably deep level of detail found in their former album and their move from digital to analogue essentially poured boiling water over a perfectly elaborate production formula, leaving the listeners and long-time fans with a skeleton of their former brilliance. The musical layers are there, but they serve one purpose: complementing the rest of the sound to create a whole. No longer do they exist as their own entities, weaving in and out of each other and amounting to a fantastic sound. Immolate Yourself should have been Telefon Tel Aviv’s first album, and I hope that we have yet to see their best work.

  4. themilkmanon 26 Jan 2009 at 12:03 pm

    John, the album is referred to by its proper title early in the review. The “Maps” referenced is a shortened version to avoid having to repeat the whole thing.

    The commet abou the second albumtt being disapponting is off course a personal thing, although I remember a few other reviews picking up on a similar feel. I never actually felt that the beautiful layering of the first album was put to good use on their second, and re music was bordering on lounge electronica. I listened to it again a few times while preparing the review ofthe new album, and felt exactly that again. It is, of course, just an opinion, but that’s what reviews are.

    As for the new album lacking the depth of earlier work, this is your opinion, and I respect that, but I really feel that, although the music in general works in different ways, it is a much more achieved record. TheMore dance orientated feel could have been a total failure, but I think they have pulled it off brilliantly.

  5. Pete Lazonbyon 04 Feb 2009 at 11:55 am

    For all 3 albums the moods evoked are the common thread. Music is really about what does, not how it does it.

  6. David Abravanelon 07 Feb 2009 at 9:22 am

    Excellent review; I consider this one to be their best yet. It’s a shame the story has to end here.