Telefon Tel Aviv are one of my personal favorite bands. I first became aware of them through the remix work they've done for Nine Inch Nails and A Perfect Circle, and after picking up their debut album and catching a couple of shows, my respect for their work has only been cemented. (By the way, "them/they" are Josh Eustis and Charles Cooper, teh duo behind Telefon Tel Aviv) The follow-up to their debut, "Fahrenheit Fair Enough" has been a long time in the making. Boston's Weekly Dig's categorization of the music seems to tell it most swiftly and accurately: “[Telefon Tel Aviv have] crafted a sound that is one-half Ken Ishii roboticized funk, the other half Shuttle 358-esque ambient, nicely topped off with a pinch of glitch.

Map of What Is Effortless is the title of the new album, and you can order it from the Hefty Store, or get it straight off of iTunes. All formats counted, you can buy it on CD, dual gatefold vinyl, and AAC format. Coordinated with the release of the new album, their website has undergone a complete revamp at the very capable hands of new emit - check it when you can, they have plenty of news, and you can listen to some high-quality unreleased tracks off of the phantom "Newport South" soundtrack. Whether you have bought the new album or not, thanks to the kindness of the folks at Hefty Records, we've actually got a few special copies to give away... more on that later. If you haven't heard the music, I'll quit babbling now and let you in on what it's like.

The new album opens up with a familiar rhodes sound, hints of the glitchy noises you'd recognize from any of their prior work, and then unfolds an orchestrated backdrop to a compressed drum kit, giving you a pretty good idea of the smooth mood encompassing the disc. Almost halfway through the track, "When It Happens, It Moves All By Itself" drops out to quiet arpeggios over vocal cut-ups and synth buzzes.

"I Lied," which was previewed on the single release earlier this year, features Damon Aaron singing reflectively over a slow tempo beat, accentuated by the glitchy percussive noises familiar to fans. The Loyola University Chamber Orchestra joins the synth bassline, bringing a very full sound to the track. "While we drifted away, I missed it, I missed it all. Caught up in everything, I meant well, but I didn't know how...", Aaron sings, as synths and strings arpeggiate and lead out into the next track, the lead single off the album.

"My Week Beats Your Year" has Lindsay Anderson giving a nonchalant monologue (Penned by Eustis) over a dancy, airy number, punctuated by buzzy, bassy choruses. The duo plays around with the rhythm a bit, hinting that perhaps they have a few of Luke Vibert's dancier music amongst their record collections. The track blends into the slower paced "Bubble and Spike," which has Anderson returning to the mic to sing, "I couldn't see your face in the rain, when you left me standing there at 4am. I've gotta catch my train, I've got to find my way." Very notable about Telefon Tel Aviv are the way they can layer so many different sounds and melodies and still sound so extraordinarily crisp and airy.

The title track of the album is an instrumental number, heavily featuring the Loyola University Chamber Orchestra playing an arrangement over a burbling soundscape, eventually mutating into a relaxing, droning synth melody that leads right into another track featuring Damon Aaron. Keyboards, fretless bass, slide guitar, flute start into "Nothing is Worth Losing That," another smooth rolling track that is probably best enjoyed in the company of a significant other.

"What It Is Without the Hand that Wields It" hits a dark spot on the album for over six minutes. A very brooding track, if you're reading this at the NIN Hotline, chances are this is going to be one of your favorites. Buzzes and clipping noises rise into the mix as a distorted, low piano string (or something rather like that, anyway) makes its way closer and closer into the mix over the two and a half minute lead-in, with live strings helping the rising action. The feel of this track is more reminiscent of their first album and remixes they've done for other bands, and I find myself putting this on over and over again when I'm listening to the CD in my car. There's also a nice field recording at the end of the track that confused me a bit the first time I listened to the disc -- I was wearing headphones and wondered how birds might have gotten into the atrium of my apartment comples. I'm a sucker for good stereo field reproductions.

"What It Was Will Never Again" brings the return of Lindsay Anderson, singing with another low-tempo crisp track, singing "...and now the time has gone away, and in my mind you're underneath..." slide guitar accompanying the chording organ and deep kicks, leading to a powerful eruption of guitar, "The pleasure's mine, the pleasure's mine, the pleasure's mine..."

"At The Edge of The World You Will Still Float" closes the album. The acoustic guitar plays the same chords as the album opener, reminiscent of the open and close of the debut, Fahrenheit Fair Enough. Damon Aaron comes back to sing along with the track, and the Chamber Orchestra recants the opening theme, as the song builds to acme, only to cut out to a muted bass, guitar, keyboard and drum machine finale that quietly closes out the album.

You might find it a bit of a leap to go from Nine Inch Nails to an album like this, but then you might also be surprised at how much variety you'll find in a typical NIN fan's music collection. If you check this album out, try to do it on the best audio system you can - this is music that utilizes the entire range of the sound spectrum. MP3s do not do the songs justice; although the iTunes tracks I grabbed are CD quality, as far as I can tell, and I've got very expensive headphones, for whatever that's worth.

Stuck around (or skipped to) the end eh? Good! We are lucky enough that we have three copies of the new album to give out. Initially I thought we were getting a few copies of the single to give out, but Hefty has been generous enough to send three signed 12" records to give out! Want in? Fill out the form below (we have never given out your email addresses, we never will) and three names will be drawn at random to receive a copy shipped your way, free of charge, courtesy Hefty Records. We'll be taking emails all this weekend and on into Monday, but then the contest closes. It doesn't matter what country you're reading, records don't have Region Encoding or any crap like that, and if your name is drawn, I'll foot the shipping wherever you hail from.

--Leviathant

NOTE: The contest has closed, and the winners have been contacted via email. Thanks!


Written by Leviathant for The NIN Hotline.
Do not reproduce without permission. Article ©2004 The NIN Hotline. Images and photos courtesy Hefty Records