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Tearist – Living: 2009-Present (Thin Wrist)

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by Cheri Amour

Plainly speaking, I don’t think that I am averse to live albums. I own a few and hey, some of the tracks that I may have otherwise dismissed on the recorded product have come to life in liberated and unbound form onstage. I do think, however, that there should be some sort of advancement to a live album: i.e. having already released the actual tracks in an studio-based format. This may be an old fashioned mentality but, more often than not, the term ‘live album’ just conjures up ideas of cock rock juggernauts like Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous or The Who’s much-celebrated Live At Leeds.

With this in mind, it seems a somewhat risky move for LA duo Tearist to release a series of audience recordings as their debut. This kooky approach to formatting gives the album a disjointed feel. Many of the tracks are cut abruptly short or digressing into the frenzied sound of lead vocalist [and part-time percussionist] Yasmin Kittles, who wails and cries through the set with the brute energy of Queen Adreena’s Katie-Jane Garside.

Despite its forefront position, opening track ‘Civ’ is probably the least audible of the recordings, with its hazy drone of distortion smothering Kittles’ haunting gasps and spine-tingling howl. This is very much the tone of Tearist though. As a pair, the equation is equal parts electronic to plain chaotic. ‘Closet’ shows the most potential with jarring digital beats and a flurry of delayed vocals that, at some meeker points, could even be the wild cry of Kate Bush but ultimately falters into the ferocity of an eccentric Kathleen Hanna.

The recordings here are fidgety and grainy, soaked in synths and effects. And it sounds as if many of these tracks were bashed out in a garage – all craggy, concrete walls and exposed brick that’s rough to the touch. Some see this garage as a palace of opportunity and promise, and others see it as a storage space until someone comes along to use the square footage a bit more wisely and efficiently.

Would I rent out my garage to Tearist so they could fuse together their hardened and industrial electro? Maybe. But I think I’d have to insist on a mixing desk and some sort of planning permission in order to implement a framework to it all … This is not to say that a live album is necessarily a bad album but I’d like to try and contain this jittery bunch just enough to get a real feel of what they have to offer… which could be something very exciting indeed.

For now, let’s leave the live albums to the legends until Tearist carve their own.

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