Tecumseh- Violet

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, September 7, 2014

Anti-Matter Records recently released two new albums from Portland drone/noise band Tecumseh, Violet and For the Night. While they may have come out at the same time, these releases were recorded at different points in the band’s career. The former was created during a West Coast tour in 2011 while the latter was from the same sessions as 2009’s Return to Everything. I decided to start off with Violet as a way to introduce myself to Tecumseh’s material, as it’s the longer of the two and a slightly newer recording. What I discovered was the same type of guitar based drone that Sunn O))) has become known for, though there are enough nuances to the sound to make this album distinguishable.

Violet is comprised of three tracks, with the almost four minute “Final Light, Last Light” feeling more like a lead-in for the remaining two pieces. Tecumseh doesn’t immediately start off with the familiar low pitched rumbling of stretched out guitar notes, instead beginning with a higher pitched drone that is placed over top of an ambient sounding base. It’s the perfect way to transition over to the two lengthier arrangements, and this is where Violet really begins to pull listeners in. “Serenade for the Dead” is the song that reminds me the most of Sunn O))), as the tonality of the guitars is very similar. But the biggest difference between the two groups is the way that Tecumseh leads into this lower rumbling, as they spend the first couple of minutes exploring much softer textures that have an eerier feel to them before the crushing waves of distortion kick in. The track also ends in this same fashion, and it’s the way that the walls of sound build up to a truly intense level and then fade away back into softer ambiance that had me hooked. Closing piece “Vincennes” is the one I’ve returned to the most out of the three though, as it finds the group exploring the softer tones of the first song while letting the notes spread out for much longer periods of time. It’s a haunting arrangement that uses the minimalist approach to its advantage, gripping the listener in a thick, hazy atmosphere until the last three quarters when the volume suddenly increases out of nowhere and jolts you back to attention. The use of mellower droning that gets under your skin before a sudden increase in dynamics works to Tecumseh’s advantage, and it what made them feel different than some of the other drone bands I’ve spent time with.

My first exposure to Tecumseh has proven to be an interesting one, and though there are some moments that are very reminiscent of Sunn O)))’s low pitched rumbling the group is able to provide enough nuances to be distinguishable. When they’re able to explore both mellower sprawling drone arrangements along with much louder, tense moments this band is at their best, and that’s why Violet is a worthy recommendation for those of you who can appreciate this genre. I’ll be checking out For the Night in the near future to see how it compares, and it will be interesting to see how tracks that Tecumseh recorded two years prior to these sound.


Leave a Reply