Tarentel
Paper White/Big Black Square Temporary Residence http://www.tinymixtapes.com//sites/default/files/arton737_1.jpg

[Temporary Residence; 2005]

Rating: 3.5/5 3.5 / 5 (0)

Styles: post-rock, instrumental rock; prog-rock
Others: GYBE!, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky, Sonic Youth, Tortoise


http://media.tinymixtapes.com/


Usually, claiming that a band plays 'soundtrack music' implies a lack of some inviting element. After all, how much is a song worth if it relies on a film's narrative to give it life? That obviously depends on who you're talking to. Musicians have been making soundtracks to nonexistent films for a long time, filling that ethereal gap only an expertly scored movie scene can create. Tarentel are only one of the many contemporary purveyors of this solemn, highly effective mood music. In 2004, they further advanced their austere aesthetic with We Move Through Weather, an album that shifted the band's focus from lumbering guitar lines to tense, atmospheric drumming. Those same sessions account for their newest release, the double EP Paper White/Big Black Square.

Intentionally separated into two different projects, Tarentel hope to mark the clear progression of their recent work by offering up these literal bookends. To clarify, Paper White was recorded before the bulk of their 2004 full-length, Big Black Square after. Unsurprisingly, the former is very much a warm up. Sporting shorter cuts and more traditional mechanics, it sounds most consistently related to We Move Through Weather. Similarly, the ever-present drumming of Jim Redd gives Paper White's more repetitive foundations an extra boost, making the first of the two EPs roll by relatively quickly.

Big Black Square, on the other hand, is a more trying affair. Containing one 43-minute track, it progresses through multiple ambient movements and drifting sound collages. The subtle shifts in tone and mood are best appreciated under close scrutiny, but like many works of minimalism, you have to be in a rather specific mood to sustain heightened interest. That's not to say that Big Black Square is a true work of minimalism; in fact, under the surface there are quite a few micro-noises buzzing around, yet we aren't treated to a true shift in mechanics until the 15-minute mark. Drums begin scattering atop the surface collage, creating a sense of frantic paranoia that, although somewhat foreign to Tarentel's recent work, permeates the rest of the recording. Overall, Big Black Square features some of the groups most challenging music to date, that when juxtaposed against their more traditional elements reveals true potential.

Listened to as one massive, throbbing whole, Paper White, We Move Through Weather, and Big Black Square form somewhat of an opus for Tarentel. With eight years of practice, they have mastered the art of composing space around the notes -- instead of the other way around -- a feat that demands appreciation even from a critic like me, who doesn't typically favor the whole moody post-rock scene. The record's only detraction comes with its uniformity and occasional lack of dynamics, something that even a steady beat can't fix. Still, there are few bands who straddle the lines of experimentation in the context of a rock group as well as Tarentel. They know what to leave to the listeners imagination and when to leave it, a musical give-and-take that will either make you overjoyed or left wanting more.

Paper White:
1. Isalais Straight
2. Open Letter to Hummingbirds
3. Golden State Overnight
4. Paper White
Big Black Square:

1. Big Black Square


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