The subject of the music feature (by Liz Ohanesian) in this week's print edition of LA Weekly is Tearist, one of our favorite LA bands of the last couple of years.
There are several bands that have now traveled the road from underground club The Smell to bigger venues, records, and critical notice. There are also several people who have done the noise music circuit around town. And recently there have been many different groups anchored by a serious dude behind a synth and a flamboyant frontperson chanting disturbing lyrics.
And then there's Tearist. Tearist is special. We spotted them back in 2009 and we we've been recommending their live shows for ages. Now small label Thin Wrist Recordings has finally captured their sound on record, with this week's Living: 2009-Present .
Here are some highlights of Liz Ohanesian's article:
Tearist could very well be the most crucial musical project to come out of Los Angeles in recent years. They are an electronic duo who proclaim a love for Dada, surrealism, the KLF and Sogo Ishii's Einstürzende Neubauten film 1/2 Mensch, but they go out of their way not to make obvious references. “If we can reference another band, the song is done,” Kittles says. “We throw it away.”
Try to compare Tearist to any other electronic artists and you would be missing the point. They are an entity unto themselves, a group that, as their name implies, deconstructs what they know to create their own movement. But, like Einstürzende Neubauten in the scrap-metal and tool-wielding heyday of 1/2 Mensch, they are a band whose live reputation precedes them.
A couple of weeks ago, Tearist opened for Warp recording artists PVT at the Echo. They had just returned from New York after playing a string of dates in the United States and Europe after SXSW. Kittles appeared in a leotard and oversized, cut-up T-shirt underneath a leather jacket and baseball cap that she quickly removed. She moved across the stage in jerky, almost convulsive motions. A fan, which is always set up on their stages to help Kittles maintain her endurance (she has suffered from lung problems), kept her hair blowing wildly as she maintained a strong yet strangely faraway gaze on the crowd.
But to those with open ears, Kittles' raw performance persona doesn't overshadow Strangeland-Menchaca's musical contribution. Formerly the frontman of Silver Daggers, he now stands behind a mountain of gear, exuding a quiet intensity. Both onstage and off, it's obvious that the two share a rich connection, that it is their symbiosis that creates this visceral sound and energy.
Tearist's new album, Living: 2009-Present (released this week), is the closest you can get to seeing the band without leaving your bedroom (though we most definitely encourage you to leave your bedroom and catch one of their gigs). Released by Thin Wrist Recordings, the album compiles nine tracks recorded live in the last couple of years at various locations across Los Angeles, from house shows to a gig at El Rey Theatre. Even without the visuals, you can hear the storm in Kittles' voice and sense the calm of Strangeland-Menchaca's presence in each recording.
Tearist play a record-release gig for Living: 2009-Present (Thin Wrist Recordings) on Sat., April 30, 7 p.m., at Vacation Vinyl in Silver Lake.
Read the rest of Liz Ohanesian's article, “Tearist: The Real Thing”.