Teach Me Equals – Knives in the Hope Chest

The debut recording by Teach Me Equals is a bold, visionary glimpse into the future of pop music. The duo combine traditionally orchestral instruments with samples and noise to create a hypnotic, dreamlike soundscapes.

Greg Bortnichak’s hushed, understated voice perfectly compliments band mate Erin Murphy’s beautiful vocal delivery. On “Coelacanth” Murphy’s voice stands practically alone as she sings “Now I was young when I first met the sea,” her cadence pitch perfect and astounding.

“Swallow the Smoke” is the most instantly engaging track with a galloping drum loop and a chorus comprised of a guitar riff accompanied by non-lyrical “oohs.” Three minutes in, the song quiets down to minimal violin and cello interplay, gradually building to an orgasmic climax before the rhythm drops. The chorus is infectious and you’ll find it implanted in your cerebral cortex for the foreseeable future.

Album closer “Lullaby For Piano” features multi-layered vocals which become hypnotic through repetition. While there’s no piano on the track, it does sound like something you’d sing to soothe a toddler waking from a hellish nightmare.

At times the dense atmospherics and electronic percussion recall Kid A and Amnesiac-era Radiohead or perhaps what The xx would sound like if they were more musically informed. The lack of a traditional drummer is only noticed when the rhythm sounds too much like a dusty, old metronome or a Casio keyboard as is the case on “As the Crow Flies.”

Knives in the Hope Chest is a stunning initial statement and feels as though it were produced by a much more seasoned band. There’s something new and groundbreaking here. If redefining pop was their goal, Teach Me Equals have succeeded, leaving only the question of what they are capable of accomplishing next.

Rating: 11 out of 12 cans of PBR!


About Ben Allen

Our music editor Ben Allen was born one stormy evening in a quaint Northern California coastal village. Upon birth he was immediately exposed to the soothing analog sounds of artists such as Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Paul Simon, Captain Beefheart and Santana. As the lad grew, so did his appreciation for an assortment of abrasive hard rock. A pubescent flirtation with butt metal was shattered in the early 1990’s by exposure to Nirvana and other so-called “Alternative” bands. While in college, our protagonist became a DJ on a local station, and began work as a freelance music journalist. During this period he became entranced with artists such as Tortoise, Slint, Modest Mouse, Guided By Voices and Pavement. Currently Allen resides in Arcata, CA where he continues to obsess and salivate over new recordings by his favorite artists. He works with music industry people to ensure that Savage Henry’s contributors receive music and other promotional materials. He also writes a silly monthly list titled “Ben’s 10.”

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