Ben Allen, music editor
In a perfect world, Teach Me Equals would be the most popular band of all time. On their second LP Fix History, the group continues to explore overwhelmingly lush, exotic musical landscapes rich in chaotic dissonance. Utilizing cello, violin, guitar and percussive and noisy samples, Teach Me Equals constructs sounds that are completely original and impossible to classify.
Fix History opens with “Cleo,” and a beautifully sung question by Erin Murphy (guitar, violin, vocals), “who are you? what do they call you?” The reverb-laden percussive samples and Murphy’s strong, gloriously haunting vocal melodies are reminiscent of some of Portishead’s best moments.
Elsewhere, “PCV” feels the most immediate with an instantly memorable chorus about the rapture not delivering. It’s a pop song, but only for those that don’t mind a little musical complexity and intellectually-rousing lyrics.
The album’s highlight, however, is “Smooth Scrolling,” sung primarily by Greg Bortnichak (cello, programming, vocals). A perfectly understated guitar line accompanies his ruminations on life on the road and rock n’ roll obsessiveness. The track maintains a relaxed, almost country tone until two minutes in when abrasive, repetitive guitar and drum flourishes fuck it all up, in the most perfect way.
Album closer “Fix History” is a reflection of where TME has been and what future creative endeavors are possible for the band and rock music in general. At times, moments of sampled chaos are reminiscent of Radiohead’s Kid A. Murphy’s vocals have never been stronger, and some of the sustained, falsetto notes will leave you breathless.
For those ambitious enough to discover glorious beauty within a world of noise and chaos, Teach Me Equals should be your new favorite band. Fix History is a strong artistic statement and ambitious step forward for a group of musical visionaries.
Rating: 12 out of 12 cans of PBR!