Review: Tera Melos, Sneaky Pete’s

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While experimental three-piece Tera Melos might shy away from filing themselves under the heading ‘Math Rock’, truth be told it’s a fairly apt description given their use of the jarring, dissonant chords, arrhythmic beats and irregular time signatures so beloved of the genre.

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And it’s also appropriate given that their stop-start sound is rather like long division or quadratic equations, in that they take some getting used to. For some, it’ll make sense immediately, others will have to work at it, and then there will be those who, try as they might, won’t ever get their heads round it.

Travelling the border between self-indulgence and sublime, the group stray into both territories at times (on Trident Tail and Kelley respectively). But considering they’re currently midway through an epic European tour consisting of fifty-nine shows in sixty days, not to mention in the process of recording a full-length follow-up to 2010’s Patagonian Rats, the performance is remarkably fresh, with no lack of energy or input.

It’s an ambitious sound, which arguably needs a larger space than Sneaky Pete’s to fully breathe, but the band also don’t make as much of the intimate setting as they could. Segueing one track into the next is technically impressive, but it does limit audience engagement and this evening they’re half-a-dozen songs in before we get the chance to offer up any applause.

As a result, the band lose the attention of a sizeable number of those at the back of the venue, a situation only exacerbated by guitarist Nick Reinhart’s inexplicable decision to address the crowd without using his mike, meaning many are left guessing as to what’s actually being said.

Patience is definitely required tonight, but at least up close it’s easier to appreciate of the effort and ability required to tackle tunes like The Skin Surf and Aped in a live setting, without the fallback of overdubs and retakes. It might not be instantly accessible, but once you finally tune in, it’s understandable why the Californian trio have developed a cult following; somehow, it just all adds up.