October 20, 2010


Aaron Matthews has a library full of wind chimes and dimes.

It’s fitting that Teebs named his debut after a synonym for love. At times. his music  can be indescribable without leaning on superlatives. At a superficial level, these are merely samples and loops, cut and pasted in a particular order. Yet on an ethereal plane, this is the light at the end of the tunnel — bursts of cascading sound, swirling piano keys, and twinkling wind chimes. Listen to the swirling strings and clipped bird sounds on “My Whole Life” and try not to think about it.

The man born Mtendere Mandowa crafts bubbling organic soundscapes that owe just as much to ambient as they do to hip-hop. Hell, “Wind Loop” samples effing wind chimes and juggles them with clattering 808s and airy keys. These songs don’t thump or knock so much as jingle, sparkle and jangle. The music is so evocative at least partly because it’s hard to identify most of these sounds. The chirps on “My Whole Life” could be bird cries or station announcements on the metro. “Why Like This” blurs the sound of rattling change, until it fills the air as clacking percussion and an oceanic current of a bass line enter. “Double Fifths” tweaks its refulgent piano keys like someone cranking too rapidly on a music box, before submerging them in burbling percussion that propels the song forward.

Ardour pulls you in via the sheer magnetic force of its texture and melodies –its hypnotic, circular sounds easing their way in. Each track is a sonic postcard, a soft-focus image you need to focus on to parse. “Bern Rhythm” sounds like the view from a bell tower, as the wind skates through your clothes and terns breeze past. It’s testament to Teebs’ talents that when vocals enter the equation, it sounds natural. The twisting frequencies and heartbeat claps of “Long Distance” cordially embrace Gaby Hernandez’ sighing croon like they were made for her voice.

Over the course of a person’s life, we accumulate a library of noises and sounds that characterize distinct moments in time. The first time you went on vacation and heard a seagull fly over heard. The busy jangle of change in your grandather’s pockets. Teebs is just pulling from his own library of sounds, making music to watch the sunrise to.

MP3: Teebs-“Arthur’s Birds”
MP3: Teebs-“Double Fifths”

MP3: Teebs-“Why Like This”

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