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Teeth Of The Sea
Orphaned By The Ocean Austin Collings , January 23rd, 2009 03:25

Sometime in the unforgettable summer of '96, inbetween daft-eyed Gazza laid out cruciform on the grass like a rotund Jesus as Teddy Sheringham and co. squirt water in his distinctive mush, and the cruel dust left by a bomb in Manchester that annihilated the city centre, I formed a band that attempted to sound something like Teeth of the Sea. Carrying more spots than ideas, I was sixteen at the time and, unlike everybody else I knew who was in a band, I could barely play my guitar for longer than a minute and thirteen seconds.

This is why I wanted my band – and boy was it my band – to sound like this; because none of us could sing, or play, and in sounding like this, we could stop and start and forge moody feelings, alternative soundscapes, that would reach out to complicated girls with eyes like glass and voices like hugs. As it was, Offshore, as we were called, were soon a spent force after that first gig in that large, empty pub in some haunted corner of North Manchester. Failing to control the feedback that vomited from my pint-sized amplifier, our sound was more akin to the unwelcome clatter of bad plumbing than standard music, and we left feeling like dejected mules. My lasting image of that unwelcoming night comprises a diminutive piss-tank with a startlingly red face, decked out in a rat-grey leather blouse-on jacket, tight jeans like sausage skins, and a pair of slim street shoes, licking his just-spilt pint off the bar surface. We were never asked back. I guess they just weren't ready for us…

Teeth of the Sea, on the other hand, can actually play. And if nothing else, this compellingly menacing and meandering album boasts both one of the finest track titles of recent times in 'Swear Blind the Alsatians Melting', and a superb album title too – Orphaned by the Ocean. But don't be fooled. Unlike so many before, and so many who will come again, their intelligence isn't used as some kind of affected stance over and above emotion and sincerity.

These seven instrumentals contain a fascinating array of sounds: aching trumpet, ominously incessant bass, benevolent guitar, fumbling drums, forlorn monk moans, half-heard kids voices that smack of both innocence and some kind of odd evil. These are sounds that reflect the sad sads and the blue blues, that have a talent for biting a small chunk out of your heart, that make a mockery of the human condition; that dig deep, that delve under our skin like the bogeyman of youth biding phantom time beneath the bed. They are sounds that transport our memories back to the Miles Davis of Sketches of Spain and Jack Johnson; back to Meddle-era Pink Floyd, back to the hypnotic wonder of Talk Talk's Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden… Across all of these tracks, and within all of these sounds, I hear a band that would have made the best kind of skewered sense to that sixteen year old with his unreliable amp and big ideas; I also hear a band that makes perfectly skewered sense to the twenty-eight year old who has just had the pleasure to listen to and review their album. Let's hope the public are ready this time.