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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Album Review: OneWorld 開発 by Teams

    TEAMS aka Sean Bowie is an artist's artist. While many of his class-of-2010 contemporaries have graduated to mainstream mediocrity [when's the last time you listened to Star Slinger? haha], Teams has remained firmly ensconced in the avant-garde underground, ever evolving, and making music that has anticipated major new developments like seapunk and vaporwave. The chameleon-like Bowie hasn't been content to repeat a formula, and by the time the audience catches up, he's off new and different things. 

OneWorld 開発,  released on vinyl last month, is his strongest release to date, a set of ultra-modern electronic dance music that would be equally at home on the dance-floors of Moscow or Tel Aviv, Hong Kong or Dubai. OneWorld 開発  is a carefully structured, lovingly crafted album, with a unity of both theme and production approach that bespeaks artistic maturity, rare in this genre.

"Intro (Afterburner)" opens the album and establishes the rhythmic attack; pounding layers of percussion, noise and vocals wash over shifting futuristic breakbeats. The title track is the set's strongest,  a thoroughly chilled ambient house joint, salted with a touch of breakbeat.   Each of these tracks feature forms of broken beat, a welcome respite from too-damn-much 4-to-the-bar EDM.  Bowie's absorbed Detroit techno, which is an audible influence, and draws on that brief period in the early 90's before breakbeat, aka jungle techno, morphed into drum & bass and ossified. He's also been absorbing the deeper, darker stream of  80's underground music culture - far-out stuff like T.G. On OneWorld 開発, noise is incorporated sparingly but effectively, giving the music an undertone of menace, reinforced by the use of found speeches, prayers and chants as vocals.

"Make You Forget", featuring the soulful vocals of Bobby Dahl,  manages to evoke both Chicago house and Detroit techno, deep and moody. "The Repeatedly Forgiving", with its' litany of names read in Arabic, is a reminder that even as we are one world, we are not united, and there is an ongoing cultural conflict underway, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. In "Club Burj", Miami bass meets Juan Atkins at Mecca, as a Middle Eastern dirge is sung amidst sirens, shouts of "ecstasy", and  percolating, acidic synths. 

The first three quarters of "Alchemy" serves as a build-up to a drum & bass explosion, leading into "Cotard Delusion", the unmistakable climax, a jungle-techno/ breakbeat banger of truly epic proportions. This track demonstrates what breakbeat can do, dynamically. "Outro (Predestined)", ends the album with an appropriate bang.  An African chant is mixed with an African-American woman's first-person account of spiritual initiation and predestination, building to another inventive tribal breakbeat workout.

Teams'  OneWorld 開発 is not the One World of  mindless utopian dreamers, but the real one, the one that we have for better or worse, with all of its' spectrum of light and dark. It's the one world of The Great Work, the one foretold by the missing capstone, with the one all-seeing-eye. The one world where we're all waiting for the predestined crowning of Al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl

 Listen  to OneWorld 開発 below, and don't miss the title track and "Cotard Delusion". The album is available as a digital download and on 12" white vinyl from Team's Bandcamp.

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