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Tivol - Early Teeth

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Artist: Tivol

Album: Early Teeth

Label: Holy Mountain

Review date: Oct. 15, 2005

Finding reference points for Tivol’s music is easy. Many in rock’s noisy history have left the same wreckage in their wake: Can, Acid Mothers Temple, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, the Velvet Underground, Comets on Fire, the MC5. Easier still is finding what separates Tivol from this raucous crowd. The Finnish quartet lacks the political rhetoric, utopian idealism, cosmic verbiage, and songwriting conceit with which, at one time or another, the others have weighed themselves down. Early Teeth makes clear that these four (identified only as Askola, Ihanamäki, Kettunen and Nevalainen) want only one thing: to throw down with red-lined guitars, bass and drums, tap the noise urge primeval and scorch a few ears with gnarly jet plumes of riffs, feedback and battered rhythms.

The four instrumentals contained here were recorded in 2002, and released as CD-Rs on the Finnish imprint 267 Lattajjaa and American label Time-Lag. Holy Mountain has now collected the disparate material onto one LP, meaning listeners get a cathartic overdose of Tivol’s riotous methods. Forget tension and release. Forget dynamics. Forget the subtleties of linear development. Each of the four cuts here jumps on the listener from note one and barrels headlong on the back of dirty metallic chords riffed into whimpering submission and seismic bass that rumbles like shifting tectonic plates. The drums swell and burst, as cymbals get beaten like ingots on Vulcan’s anvil and snare shots pop like gunfire in the din of war. The real assault, however, comes from the squall of tortured electric howls, violent scraping, head-splitting drones and swarming laser blaster sound effects that besiege the core rhythm. But rather than just set the two at each other’s throats, Tivol creates massive feedback loops and lets one interpenetrate the other until the whole eco-system of a piece like “Viha, kateus ja katkeruus ja muut loistofiilikset” flips, careening between being the soundtrack to the excruciating transmutation of some mythical beast and a road-rage stomp.

Like the feeding piranhas Free Porcupine Society’s Rob Fisk inked for the cover, the music on Early Teeth stalks the unsuspecting with sinister intent.The Finnish song titles translate into graffiti-ready slogans: “I fucking hate everything this superficial, alcohol-based, consumer society-produced, social behavior culture represents” and “Hate, Envy, Bitterness and other Fantastic Feelings.” Whether the quartet is expressing this invective or purging, it can’t be gleaned. But if they haven't re-invented the psychedelic blow-out here, they have at least jacked it up into a bad-ass muscle car that goes from zero to mind-fuck in three seconds flat.

Tivol missteps only when they try too hard to control their sound. “Jawohl, Tivol!” includes an actual chord change, so when they have to cycle back to it they feel restrained. The piece works as methed-up stoner metal, but misses their anarchic tunnel vision.Tivol hits hardest when they reject all but the most rudimentary structure and unchain their sonic hounds for a full-bore hunt.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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