Review: TAKH – S/T
A full-length collaboration born out from the previous work of members of Black Heart Rebellion alongside Annelies Van Dinter, the bones of TAKH are older than the year-long recording process of their debut self-titled record indicates. With almost thirty years of shared experience between the members of Black Heart Rebellion and Annelies Van Dinter’s work in Echo Beatty, their background boasts everything from dream pop to hardcore—styles with dictate much of the direction of their new record: a combination of lush, textured composition interspersed with emotive passion and ferocity.
It’s in combining the anesthetic qualities of the former and the aggression of the latter that TAKH achieve a sound unique within the world of post-rock, post-metal, etc. This is paired with their understated folk sensibilities, resulting in the few louder, harsher moments of the records being cushioned at both ends by stylistic opposites.
“Salomonne” features sparse, almost reverent choral arrangement accompanied by minimal percussion that gives way to interpolation of high, siren-like ostinato riffing and bellowing bass chugs. It articulates how muscular the records composition is: powerful and dynamic, a piece with multiple elements operating in tandem, rather than the results of a loose, tepid improvisation session.
The sparseness of “Unabashed And Knowing” is oddly enveloping. It’s such a dry and droning track—still operating within conventional parameters, still linear in composition, but has a subtle, escalating progression that explodes into the song’s peak around the the two-thirds mark.
TAKH has spoken of the theme of rebirth being present throughout the record, and there is a catharsis found throughout the each track—a tension, a release, like something freeing itself and bursting free. A changing of thought, a shifting in perspective.
“Drôme” emphasizes the record’s natural, earthy production sound, with each snare shot sounding like a horses hoof-trodding through muck, with each fuzzy bass note rumbling like thunder. Despite all this naturalism, the track still is still arguably the coldest on the record atmospherically—evoking the sort of lonely, negative space found on many of Low‘s more guitar-driven records.
The explosiveness of TAKH’s songwriting is most present through their incendiary climaxes, which are built piece-by-piece in a way that’s both rewarding as a listening and lacks the remedial sound a much lower-grade group would execute. “Azure Blue” is a track which despite being the most outwardly pretty of the tracklist, is the most ennui-filled. It is a track which has familiar trappings but has this indomitable droning wave of distortion riding beneath the mix at all times. It has a pronounced sense of struggle belying its otherwise accessible sound, featuring the records most explicitly “riffy” moments. At any instant it feels like its liable to fall to pieces, only to break through to some silent respite at the tracks closing; harkening back to this idea of rebirth, it feels like a metamorphosis, of someone hardened by the elements and made stronger because of it.
“Azure Blue” and “Hair Of A Horsetail” feel like the most explicit companion pieces on the record. The group described the Ratitovec mountain ridge, pictured on the album’s cover, as a place that “feels familiar but alienating at the same time.” It is hard to not see the closing pair of tracks as the songs most clearly comparable to this idea. The record fades out on an unsure, ominous choral melody that drifts quietly into silence.
While not shaking the style to its core, TAKH managed to carve out a niche of their own in a densely populated style. TAKH is a completely unexpected experimentation that resulted in a welcome, wayward musical rebirth of its own.
TAKH is out now via Consouling Sounds Records.