“There is a lot happening. Drums, synths and loops are appearing, all at once or in rapid changes, meandering from one to the other. There are samples of flutes, pianos, xylophones, water, coming and going beneath an ever alternating rhythm. Every second counts. Melodies are surfacing, to fade away soon, as well as voices here and there, some more present, some more like ghosts. The only thing to do is to let it wash over you, because it is too much to take in at once. But once as soon as you do, the music engulfs you and will not let you drown.”
Those were my feelings while doing my first listen of Teengirl Fantasy’s new album “Tracer”, due out on True Panther next week and now streaming at NPR. It is a very experimental album, quite like their debut “7 A.M.”, but much more to-the-point and powerful. It isn’t an album for the casual easy listener though, but has to be conquered bravely or be surrendered to. While there are so many things going on in most of the tracks, there is a care- and playful mood or style persisting though. The beat patterns are carefully crafted and seldom seem arbitrary, the prominent guest vocalists like Panda Bear or Laurel Halo are well intergrated and the ideas galore are never overplayed. Panda Bear it a fitting collaborator, as Teengirl Fantasy on the one hand are as inventive than Animal Collective, and on the other can get as hypnotic as Tomboy if you are willing to give yourself over to the record. The best vocals are those from Kelela though, and this song is one of the most accessible too.
In a way, “Tracer” is a luxurious record, exhausting it’s plentiful resources with both hands, like knowing that nothing comes after. And that it a problem at the end, because they seem to have wasted their tunes before the record is really over. Especially the second to last song “Do It” really got me cross, with its hard beats and simple, uneventful progression. Weiss and Takahashi said that they so badly wanted to work with Romanthony – who is perhaps best known for the vocals on Daft Punk’s “One More Time” – but they either got paralized in awe or didnt want to throw out the track although it didnt fit on this record. Maybe they should have made “End”, below, not the interlude, but the fadeout. But hey, the good thing is that you can easily delete this song and maybe the next from your iTunes or whatever now, and improve this record to the experience it is till it consumes itself before it’s time.