In 2001, a young duo from New Orleans and based in Chicago released an album that even though it never reached any top of the chart, would have had an important impact on electronica landscape. They call themselves Telefon Tel Aviv and their debut was Fahreneit Fair Enough. Joshua Eustis and Charles Cooper won’t become celebrities, yet several small talks will start circulating about them among electronic lovers because their debut and the following Map of What is Effortless are defined by a relaxed but, at the same time, strongly refined sound. On the wave crest of Chill out and Trip hop music spreading around at the end of the nineties and the beginning of 2K, tracks like “Fahreneit Fair Enough”, “TTV”, “Lotus Above Water”, won’t only recall the classy sounds of Kruder & Dorfmeister sessions, but will also introduce elements of glitch in somewhat of an Autechre way.
Songs like “I Lied” or “When it Happens, it Moves All by Itself”, remind us of Zero 7 Simple Things, but still “Sound in a Dark Room” seems to be a forecast of what artists such as Nosaj Thing would have surfed almost ten years later.
These beginnings are sunny beginnings for Charles and Josh: the weather is calm, pure and pleased over Tel Aviv, acknowledgement comes from many sides and a few remixes of Nine Inch Nails, Apparat and other artists will be released shortly by the duo.
Then the weather becomes even warmer and enjoyable: It’s 2009 when the duo release their third LP Immolate Yourself. Something is different now. The band gained recognition worldwide and this album is a promising gem.
The overture “The Birds” already show us all the power of a music that cannot be mislead to a pleasant background sound. It’s epic, unsettling and fast. Songs as “Helen of Troy” also show the willingness to turn a bit toward a Poppier sound and reach a wider audience. Yet we can already spot some clouds on the horizon. “Monstly Translucent” or “Your Every Idol” show us too clearly something is changing in the weather over Tel Aviv and you get a final, menacing, confirm with the last track “Immolate Yourself”.
A threatening bass shake your speakers, a windy turbulent sound on the background keeps rising, a growling drum gets noisier before an explosion of joy. Even the spooky videoclip for the song was anticipating something unexpected…
In this epic closing of the album you can already spot a violent storm is going to hit Tel Aviv. On January 22nd, 2009, Charles Cooper is sadly found dead. Immolate Yourself becomes somekind of an unwanted Requiem. Telefon Tel Aviv may be coming to an end at this point, states Josh.
The years pass by, Eustis release a solo album under the moniker Sons of Magdalene and starts collaborating with stars such as Trent Reznor and Puscifer. He tries to forget, to move over, away from the storm.
Now, in 2019, the weather is not stormy anymore. Dreams are not Enough is the new LP released under the name of TTA, the first by Josh alone and even if it’s not raining anymore on this promising project brought to a partial end too early, this new album shows us the clouds are still dominating the sky over Tel Aviv.
From the color of the sleeve, to the title of the album; from the tracklist that forms, altogether, a short thought, a dark sentence (I dream of it often: a younger version of myself, standing at the bottom of the ocean, arms aloft, mouth agape, eyes glaring, not seeing, not breathing, still as stone in a watery fane) to the rarefied sound, DANE is witnessing, after a decade, the dark soul of Telefon Tel Aviv.
The rhythmic session almost disappears, except a few tracks (“A Younger Version of Myself”, “Arms Aloft”). Most of the album is a blend of faraway melancholic sounds that come from a deeper, unlighted ocean (“Mouth Agape”, “Eyes Glaring”, “Still as Stone in a Watery Fane”). The overture “I Dream of It Often” starts just as “The Birds” in Immolate Yourself, but then steers toward a completely different way, becoming somekind of a lament, a gloomy scream or moan. Is it all linked to what happened ten years ago? Or is Joshua Eustis just trying to start over with a complex and yet interesting concept album that is meant to be intended as a stand alone product, unchained and disconnected from the previous experiences of Telefon Tel Aviv?
What we know is that the story of this band, through the years and through the albums that have been released from 2001 to 2019, even if unwillingly, seem to be easily comparable to the dynamics of weather over a city: on a beautiful day, when the sun is at its highest peak, a violent storm hit. What’s left at the end of this day, is a dark, sometimes still thundering, but yet calm, cloudy sky.