CD: Hive Records HIV.13 [2004]

Tomorrow Will Not Come
When We Are Robots There Will Be Peace
Frame Theory
(Study Of) Decay Of Elements
The Structure Of Tasks
Before The Snow Comes Ash
What You Can't See Can't Hurt You
(i) = x
The Function Of The Device

There was a time when I would have said that spawning a horde of imitators was a sure mark of genuine innovation and lasting seminal influence. These days I'm less callow, and more likely to grudgingly admit that the hordes of bands who sound like VNV Nation, for example, are living proof that shit breeds shit. But there are still a few acts out there whose waves of impersonators really do testify to the impact of their original artistic vision, and Autechre are one of them. Happily, Autechre imitators are a lot more musically competent
than VNV wannabes - I guess it's a prerequisite - so my reaction to Terminal Sound System was not entirely one of dismay.

Actually it would be a little unfair to dismiss TSS as complete copycats, they're not, but I think it would be fair to say that without "Incunabula" and "Chiastic Slide" this album would never have come to be. And there's just something a touch derivative about the whole thing. I swore that I'd heard it before when the melody came in on 'When We Are Robots There Will Be Peace', but it was just some kind of disconcerting aural déjàvu; but the three dreamlike chords in '(Study Of) Decay Of Elements' really do sound remarkably like the Aphex Twin's NIN remix 'At The Heart Of It All'.

One thing this album certainly has going for it is production quality, which is outstanding. It begs to be played loud on an expensive stereo in a large, quiet room. The beats and bleeps are painted onto the psychoacoustic canvas with a precision and delicacy that brings out their occasional baroque flamboyance. The percussion is intricate yet generally uncluttered, although it does get a little too chaotic for its own good on '(!)=x', losing sight of the groove in pursuit of unpredictability. For the most part it's subtle to the point of minimalism, to such a degree that you start to forget it's there, particularly during the unusually long intervals of silence or near-silence between some of the tracks.

I wish I liked this album better than I do. I wish there wasn't so much post-Warp music coming out at the moment for it to compete with. I wish I could say Terminal Sound System were the best thing to come out of Australia since Black Lung. But having said all that, I hope you won't be left with an entirely negative opinion of "Last Night I Dreamed Of Armageddon", because it is a good job damn well done; it just isn't as striking as it deserves to be now that this level of competence has become the entry-level standard in electronica. Still, at least it doesn't sound like VNV Nation.


[Terminal Sound System] / [Hive Records]

Direct Link: http://www.auralpressure.com/review/t/terminalss_armageddon.html