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THTX, USA


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THTX - The Magic Frequencies. 2004 Cosmo-Revolution Technologies
THTX - Ultimately. 2004 Cosmo-Revolution Technologies
THTX - The Lost City. 2006 Cosmo-Revolution Technologies
THTX - The Flickering Sky. 2009 Sulatron (Austria)

1. Application for Explosion of Time 5:48
** 2. Voyage Into Space 8:39
3. Supersonic Phoenix 8:43
4. Ultimately 23:49

THTX are a newish group (though primarily a vehicle for multi-instrumentalist Matthew Smith) from Detroit who play in the space rock bag. In general, despite the rather small duo lineup (+ guest on keyboards), they avoid the usual trappings that the noise-makers of today tend to fall into. So rather than an Acid Mothers Temple wank-fest, THTX provides novelty items like structure, dynamics, texture and atmosphere. Much of this is accomplished via non-traditional instruments such as acoustic guitar and trumpet. And, oh sure, there's the electric guitar all fuzzed out and wah-wah'd to ensure you get blown to oblivion. But the latter can only happen when the stage is set properly - something the majority of modern bands don't seem, or want to, understand. "Ultimately" is the second album by THTX (I haven't heard the debut "The Magic Frequencies", nor the followup "The Lost City") and they succeed for the most part, but there are sections that can still become nauseating with the sonic overload.

1) is a bit much in places (non stop assault), but at less than 6 minutes, one can appreciate a sledgehammer opener. 2) is where THTX really shines. Acoustic guitar, haunting keyboards (from special guest Keir McDonald), slow burning fuzz guitar and pounding drums. It builds to a raga like intensity, recalling "Ummagumma" era Pink Floyd, or its many Krautrock imitators. Incredible! 3) has a killer groove with an infectious rhythm, but again the sonics can be a bit much towards the end and it's hard to appreciate the song textures underneath. THTX could have benefited from taking their foot off the gas for most of this. 4) wisely starts off with acoustic guitar, calming the proceedings down considerably. But it doesn't take long and the group is painting the walls with Moog swirls and guitar fuzz. Quite honestly it becomes annoying after awhile and it makes me recall the all-time wankers: Acid Mothers Temple. Finally, at around the 15 minute mark, the jam begins to take some shape and becomes listenable. It actually finishes quite strong, but it took too long to get there. Were it not for 2) and the first half of 3), I'd have a hard time recommending this album to be honest.

Fortunately they were to improve from here, perhaps only slightly so. Now signed to space rock specialists Sulatron, THTX has gone from amateurish to more professional. Let's hope the band continues to expand the lineup, the musical palette, while never losing focus of the heavy rock element. A good dose of editing is usually required for bands like this, and I'd like to see THTX get the scissors out more.

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* 1. The Flickering Sky (10:27)
2. Mu-tron (6:20)
* 3. Osidias (5:40)
4. Ultraviolet Twilight (6:28)
5. Infiltrating Light (6:44)
6. Collective Mind Anarchy (9:43)
7. Zenta Childe (4:44)
8. Son Of Mu-tron (2:14)
9. Darkness [11/11] (6:54)
10. Zenta Childe [Slight Return] (2:04)
11. Once Before In The Future (5:02)
12. Shadow At The Gates Of Nothingness (2:02)

Following on from our review of "Ultimately", here is the latest THTX offering. I skipped "The Lost City" (2006), an album I still haven't heard to date. While the band (primarily a solo effort of talented multi-instrumentalist Matthew Smith I should add) has tightened it up a bit, they unfortunately still have a penchant for long bouts of untamed noise. Which for this listener makes it more undesirable. The frustrating aspect of it for me is that, I feel, THTX have what it takes to put together a great album. The incredible 'Voyage into Space' from "Ultimately" proves that point emphatically. I was highly encouraged by 1), a track that jammed hard and is extremely psychedelic, but with a good sense of dynamics and songwriting. 2) was a backslide into the boggy morass of prior efforts. It's 3) where THTX shows real potential. Wah wah trumpet and organ create a fertile bed for the inevitable guitar solo. But in this context the guitar has some meaning, and adds firepower. Like adding a dash of sugar rather than 8 spoonfuls. Too much of the good stuff, without context, loses its allure. Unfortunately 4) and beyond shows less discipline. The exceptions are 6), by far the hardest rocking track on the album, and the use of phasing is a nice touch. But this being the modern age of space rock, they do far too much of the same thing for far too long. Like a Saturday Night Live skit that was funny for 3 minutes and tiresome for the remainder. 9) is a rework of a VDGG tune, and it's good to hear main man Matthew Smith on vocals. Taking on Peter Hammill is no small feat, and he does a fine job here. It's also a composition considerably different from the normal THTX fare, and a path they may want to consider in the future. 8) & 10) is more psychedelic overdose, but in the short time frame allotted, would be more acceptable if the placement were better, 11) & 12) close out the album with a more atmospheric base, and once again portrays THTX as more of a thinking man's space psych band then they sometimes allow themselves.

I'm going to need some convincing to buy any newer THTX albums (presuming there will be any), but they're definitely on my radar. There's a lot of talent here, and I do like the sound they conjure up. They have a great album in them, if they would show more discipline and put that extra energy into compositional work rather than endless jams. This is a keeper for now. Conditionally recommended to those who love their space rock to be a non-stop jam.

Comments

  1. Their full discogrphy Tom:

    Ultimately 2004
    The magic frequencies 2004
    The lost city 2006
    The flickering sky 2009

    Needless to say, that all are recommended listens.

    ReplyDelete

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