Tecumseh- For the Night

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I reviewed Tecumseh’s Violet back at the beginning of September, and found it to be an engaging drone album that had some elements in common with Sunn O))) but explored different enough territory to stand on its own. This was the first of two releases that Anti-Matter Records put out, with the other being For the Night. For the Night is a two track album that is a bit shorter than Violet, and it was recorded two years prior during the Return to Everything sessions in 2009. It’s another effort that is going to take some time to fully appreciate, and finds Tecumseh once again exploring some familiar territory.

This album is split between two songs and runs for a little over eighteen minutes in length. Opener “Darkness Swallowing Air” takes up a considerable amount of this time, coming in at eleven minutes, and it’s a more traditional drone piece that reminded me of Sunn O))). This approach was also applied to an extent on Violet, but here Tecumseh sounds much more similar as the track stretches out a distorted guitar riff to its farthest possible level. The layers of distortion ebb and flow, and if you listen to this one with headphones (as you should for this type of music) they expand around you and engulf you in a hazier atmosphere. It may sound similar to the approach the group utilized on “Serenade for the Dead”,” but the two tracks have a different overall feel. There’s still a sense of tension present in the way the riff expands, but as I made my way through “Darkness Swallowing Air” I felt a sense of mystery and exploring the unknown. Admittedly even after spending a considerable amount of time with the song it hasn’t stuck with me as much as the two main pieces from Violet though, as the slight sense of experimentation from that record isn’t in play here in favor of a more straightforward approach.

Although the first song may not have fully entranced me the way I hoped, even with its mysterious feel, “Great Lakes” is where For the Night won me over. It’s another piece where Tecumseh goes for a minimalistic approach, moving away from the stretched out guitar rumblings towards hints of buzzing electronics and crackling bursts of sound. Here the group regains their sense of dread and helplessness, and it’s reminiscent of the type of soundtrack one might experience while watching a horror movie where the protagonist is making their way through a dark, abandoned location, unsure of what is around the next corner. The majority of the seven minute run time is spent with these minimalistic sounds, but there are just enough layers to the electronics to build the tension, until the end where the guitars kick in at a mid-range hum and the material reaches its peak level. Like “Vincennes” from Violet, this song is a great example of how well Tecumseh is able to take these sparse layers and make something unnerving with them. As the electronics buzz around your eardrums and the guitars layer over them one’s imagination runs wild, and it’s likely to take your mind to some dark and unexpected places.

If I had to choose between these two releases Violet would likely get the nod, as its emphasis on just a bit more experimentation and ability to consistently create tension and eeriness made the material have a more immediate impact. But For the Night still has plenty to offer listeners who have a chance to dive into its layers, and it’s clear that even though the two albums were recorded two years apart they complement each other nicely. For me, Tecumseh is at their best when there’s that little extra bit of electronics added into the stretched out riffs and that’s why this one didn’t stand out quite as much, but if your tastes lean more towards early Sunn O))) where the rumbling was the driving force you may feel differently.

http://www.anti-matterrecords.com/

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