To begin prtyHVY’s descent into musical unraveling for the readers, I find it most apropos to start with a band that I am deeply fond of, none other than the almighty – Tera Melos. Rewind to the year 2006, a small little house venue sits in a city just outside of Denver, Colorado at Colorado Springs. The quaint and homely Everyday House is to host some insanely talented guys from Sacramento, California. This is where my love stemmed.
Tera Melos, then, was a four-piece performing, mostly, instrumental rock that would leave the casual listener flabbergasted and disoriented as to what they had just heard. Fast-forward to today, and their shows will still leave the casual listener flabbergasted and disoriented, not much as changed there. However, Tera Melos has downsized to a trio – in which they lost two members (guitar and drum) and then added drumming master John Clardy. Along with changing their line-up, Tera Melos has progressively been changing up their sound with each and every release since their inception.
The thing that makes Tera Melos so exceptional is just that. Each and every release cannot be pinned down in the convoluted system of genres; Tera Melos is simply playing Tera Melos music. Though each release sounds different from the last, it has that signature Tera Melos sound of … something indescribable, something ethereal, but you know it when you hear it. Between the light airy vocals, wonky guitar effects, and jamming rhythm section Tera Melos is second-to-none.
Together Nick Reinhart (guitar/vocals/pedal wizard), Nathan Latona (Bass/vocals/beanie enthusiast) and John Clardy (drum/mustache/hockey man) form some type of inhuman symbiotic relationship in which they churn out some of today’s most interesting and thought provoking tunes.
Even though their most recent release isn’t necessarily a “recent release” its press needs to have as much breadth as possible. More people need to know of this band’s craft.
The band’s X’ed Out features 12 tracks of much more contained and focused song structures than most of their previous releases have seen. Even though these songs have seen much more development, Tera Melos still has a way of creating very obtuse and unexpected song narratives. Though, in comparison to their previous full-length release Patagonian Rats, the band has leaned less-and-less on their instrumental chops, eliminating an surplus of prog moments and relying more on their ability to create beautiful melodies intertwined with wacky effects and dizzying rhythm sections.
Even though every track on this album is stellar, some of the highlights for us include: “Melody Nine” (as the band says, “not to be confused with Melody 9”), “No Phase”, “Until Lufthansa” and “Surf Nazis”.
“Melody Nine” is quite a beautiful creature for one strong, heartfelt reason. The inordinate structure and sounds presented throughout the song will give way to a strong guitar solo. What makes the solo so impressive, is not the chops behind it, but the nod to one of Tera Melos unabashedly favorite bands – Weezer. The solos that Reinhart slaps in the middle of the chaos sounds eerily like a solo that Rivers Cuomo would have written for an album circa-Pinkerton era.
“No Phase” is a song that is splendid for more than a few reasons. There is so much beautiful subtleties found throughout this song, one could easily write a college-level essay explaining each piece at length. We’ll do our best and keep it short and concise. First off, there is no beat to be found throughout the track. The song is kept afloat on the backs of simple and mesmerizing bass lines. Second, the song itself is about a pedal that is no longer functioning for Reinhart, a eulogy to a pedal, if you will. This comes into play with the “song painting” that is constantly buzzing in the background of the song from start to finish. There is a looping of guitar beeps and dribbles throughout, painting a picture of the broken pedal. Simply genius.
“Until Lufthansa” is an upbeat force of pure fun. The beginning is chock-full of pop sensibilities, from the vocals to the guitar leads to the drums to the bass; it’s just so catchy. Try not tapping your feet or bobbing your head. Then intermittently there are pieces of guitar work that sound like something fit for a baroque composition. Eventually, the closing kicks in with a tone fit for a surf song, a la Surfer Blood. Tera Melos truly showcasing their ability to mess with tones and structures fit for the most schizophrenic mind.
“Surf Nazis” The closing track (on the vinyl LP) truly finishes this phenomenal album with grandeur. What really makes this track stick out is the use of dissonance. Every use of making the listener feel a tad uncomfortable gets resolved in the most pleasant of ways. The continuation of dissonance-to-resolve really makes for an unexpectedly satisfying listen.
If you’re looking for a truly unique and gratifying album to sit down and immerse yourself in – this is the definitive album to do just that.
Live long and Tera Melos on.