TEKE::TEKE Showcase Many Possibilities of Their Kaleidoscopic Psych Rock on 'Shirushi'

BY Matt BobkinPublished May 10, 2021

No one else is doing it quite like TEKE::TEKE. The Montreal-based psych septet became known internationally on the backs of their fearsome live show, where they delivered their throwback J-rock with theatrical flair. Born out of what was intended to be a one-off tribute performance honouring the work of influential Japanese guitarist Takeshi "Terry" Terauchi, TEKE::TEKE quickly grew into a full-fledged band that built on the eleki movement that Terry helped to establish.

Eleki, the '60s-era surf rock movement born following the Ventures' first tour of Japan, is just one of many influences heard on Shirushi, TEKE::TEKE's debut full-length. Prog, noise, post-rock and chamber pop all have their time to shine throughout the album's nine tracks. Driven by the nimble leaps of Yuki Isami's flute, the rattling brass of Etienne Lebel's trombone and Maya Kuroki's dramatic vocalizations, TEKE::TEKE meld a truly unique blend of disparate elements into an immersive cinematic world, rooted in rock music but seeking to traverse much more over the album's runtime.

Shirushi's strongest moments are when TEKE::TEKE use their psych-jam roots as the foundation for something greater, whether the hypnotic build of opener "Kala Kala" that serves as an introduction to each of the band's elements, the jaunty strut of "Barbara" or the rousing surf climax of "Meikyu."

Moments when they stray from this concept are less impactful for a variety of reasons. Lengthy instrumental passages effectively set the scene with a range of emotions, from string-plucked mystique on "Dobugawa" to whimsical curiosity on "Sarabande," but often blend together into the scenery, with overlapping instrumentation vying for focus and no clear leader to take charge, shouldering both the pros and cons of a film soundtrack. Other moments, such as straight-up surf rocker "Yoru Ni," mine too familiar territory.

The project's full potential is realized on closer "Tekagami," where TEKE::TEKE's psych rock roots are all but obliterated in favour of Paris 1919-style chamber pop. Kuroki's voice is hushed and intimate, the percussion is subtle yet noticeable, and the lush instrumentation augments both tension and release.

Alongside the band's jammy calling cards, the strengths TEKE::TEKE display on Shirushi speak to a strong sense of worldbuilding off the strength of central melodies and the versatility of their unique instrumental setup. Eleki and psych rock appear to not be enough for the seven-piece's voracious and diverse musical appetites, and Shirushi offers many directions from which the band could reasonably choose.
(Kill Rock Stars)

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