Chris Daly has converted to the Swiffer Wet Jet
Categorizing the music of LA producer Teebs is a fool’s errand at best. You either dig his unique sound or you don’t. The Brainfeeder artist clearly fills the opposite side of the banger spectrum, so i suppose that makes him the mash to heavier grooves of such label mates as Flying Lotus or mono/poly. That being said, you haven’t had mash this good since Dilla had Zappa pimp donuts on his behalf. Teebs’ tunes are the aural equivalent of baby kittens–soft, playful, somewhat reserved and yet filled with a boundless energy all at the same time. To call it mood music would be a blatant disservice, as that term denotes static background sound, seemingly devoid of any kind of soul. And yet, referring to his latest masterwork, E S T E R A, as good mood music seems rather apropos.
Clocking in at under 45 minutes, the 12 track follow-up to “Ardour” and “Collections 01” form an all-enveloping vibe, like a needed hug from a parent following a dreaded scraped knee. The current Angeleno, also known as Mtendere Mandowa, fills every fiber of every song, from the harmonious chants on “Holiday” to the well worn static on “View Point.” The beat producer also happens to be a rather accomplished painter, and his eye for muted beauty shines through as clearly here as it does in his paintings and photography. It’s hard to say which is the natural extension of the other, the visual or the audio, but they two clearly are conjoined on a seemingly mystic level.
Guests abound, from the always upbeat Jonti to his Sons of the Morning partner in crime, Prefuse 73. Teebs has chosen his playmates well, each helping to flesh out Teebs’ sound without every overpowering or altering it, simply content to add their own flourishes where necessary. Not a sound is wasted here, and Teebs employs his full palette of audio trickery with broad strokes and flourishes.
Interestingly enough, the best songs here are the ones where Teebs shares his stage. The aforementioned “Holiday,” replete with children’s chorus, “Hi Hat,” featuring Populous and dropping change percussion, and “Wavxxes,” concluding with the input of Lars Horntveth and some truly sultry clarinet, are among the strongest outings. If you’re into warm, fuzzy sweater grooves, though, you’ll be hard pressed to find any song that doesn’t strike a positive, emotional chord.
While the album actually is named after Teebs’ bedroom studio, it’s interesting to note that “estar” also happens to be Spanish for “to be,” specifically where an individual is, either mentally or physically, at a given moment. If E S T E R A is where Teebs find himself today, it’s all more than good. As all great artists know, though, you always need to leave the audience wanting more, and I cannot wait to hear what tomorrow brings.