TEF Release Reviews
T.E.F. / GOAT split 7" single (Dada Drumming)
Dada does it again with another great cut of vinyl and another great document from the Texas noise scene. The label first started their venture into vinyl territory with the excellent Pedestrian Deposit/Armenia split and have since delivered numerous excellent cuts from the like of Macronympha, Thirdorgan, Government Alpha, and even some stoner metal from Rabies Caste and Sourvein. And here we have a new 7” from Texas beasts TEF and Goat split released with Goat’s own Philosophy Shop label.
TEF’s side offers up some excellent dynamic harsh noise bursting with energy. The sound remains in constant motion without losing focus. Another nice refresher is the brief moment of what I might call harsh ambience for the lack of a better term. Overblown distortion giving way to seething reverb and a dark atmosphere makes the track complete. Next up is Goat kicking things in with no delay. Rough, dense and unrelenting harsh noise played with total conviction. Personally, I would like to hear something with a little more movement and dynamics to it, but I know that this track is sure to please the harsh wall of noise purists.
The 7” is packaged very simply in a nice heavy duty vinyl sleeve with a clear sticker on the front with nothing but type, and two black and gray printed labels on the record. No track titles, no played out sex and gore photos, no pretension, just harsh Texas noise. Letting the noise speak for itself was a good idea, and in this case it certainly paid off. Dada has done a great job documenting the Texas noise scene on cassette in the past, and if this is a sign of things to come, I am very excited to see what happens next.
I think this has been out for a while but fuck it, I’m just hearing it now and damn this shit is top-notch. Bastard Noise has been a mixed bag for me but I do really enjoy some of their work like “Descent to Mimas” and “Brainstorming.” The T.E.F. material I have heard was excellent hyperactive harsh noise with a varied pallet of sonorities that I really enjoy. This collab exceeds my expectations. This is an excellent mix of both these project’s styles. The heavy synths and alternating industrial feedback of Bastard Noise collide perfectly with the Riddilin induced oscillating feedback of T.E.F.
Three tracks in 36 minutes is what you have here and I couldn’t ask for a better format. These recordings are really given enough time move slowly in large structures but also retain all the detail and gesture that I would guess T.E.F. is bringing to the table. The tracks names are a little cryptic to me I’m guessing they have some sort of space, or geologic significance and if this is the case it’s lost on me, no time to do research today.
“RHO OPH Dark Cloud” begins with a searing glassy synth texture followed by cut-up harsh synthy noise that eventually morphs into heavy alternating power surges. There really isn’t a point in this entire album where one could lose interest as you are thrown into a more reverberating passage that sounds similar to an industrial construction zone in a warehouse, but make no mistake this is obviously constructed with care.
The beginning of “The Pleiades Cluster” is my favorite moment in this entire album as the power electronic influences are heavily applied here. I could seriously mistake this material for Pain Nail or Brethren until about 1’30” in where T.E.F. finally gets a bit exasperated and takes things into his own hands once again. It is kind of sad that this intro material is lost, I would have loved to see some of this come back but these guys like to move on. This could really be pushed over the edge with some recurring themes here and there.
“M104, NGC 4594” is the most scatter-brained of the tracks which may be due to all the traveling between coordinates. The main thing that really makes this album stand out among others are the “moments” like the one beginning at about 1’50” here that is another distorted droning synth that builds up into an unrelenting cacophony of harsh noise. I am really impressed with this material and the sheer consistency of it all, there literally isn’t one bad track, or even moment in here so I might have to get my hands on the next recording from either of these two artists.
Kevin has always had the knack for easily creating images within the fabric of his noise and with this has again, prevailed. Fading in like a rusty war ship that had been deserted only to drift among the waves in silence for countless years, now is washing its bow up and through your speakers, thus tearing its way through and crushing everything in your room like in the movies where computers seem to make your eyes second guess themselves, yours ears will be mimicking the same in disbelief. This is heavy as it is dense, mind numbingly punishing, the track creaks its way past your world with the barnacles scraping up and deep into your skin while at the same time tearing off your extremities leaving you like a skinned fish still flipping around in the dry dirt. The sound splashes around you with the same destruction as acid might, so as your skinless carcass is soaking up the sea water, your surroundings are decaying before your melting eyes. Packed with plenty of metallic sounds that clank among the darkness of night, the track ends nine minutes later just like the un-expecting beach comber when confronted with this ghost ship. Think I am just making shit up. Listen jackass, I bet you have this lovely mind fuck on repeat.Reviewed by Joe Lombardo
"Corrugation" is the newest work by T.E.F., a highly impressive workout of dense editing, dynamic noise and composed layering. Opener "Scind" races from the blocks, a flurry of noise including some grinding loops, a cavalcade of noise refined and nurtured into the end product. "Scind" is the demonstration for what follows, all well energized, tightly constructed noise with each track exploring its way along a few side paths as well; "Urnd" brings in some rawer metals and groans, "Pardsc" contrasts subtle ambient touches with its horrified screams of harshness and "Nnul" is more hesitant, almost Mego-esque in some of its inflections as the sound gives a wider space within which to work. The style of editing and use of high impact electronics (especially along high-end scrapes and gleaming strikes from metals) reminds me of K2, not as direct an influence as I've noticed in any other T.E.F. material- this isn't plagiarism, just slightly reminiscent of a pretty distinctive style of noise making. At half an hour in length, "Corrugation" is an ideal span- perfect for such compact noise, as I think a lot of attention and concentration is required of the listener. The flow of each track is ever onwards, continuity through the entire disc as much as each individual piece, no real referencing or reminiscing to hear- the ending of some tracks is almost perfunctory, seeming not to be dictated by anything. "Corrugation" is aimed at this continued forward momentum, however, and the result is highly becoming. This would be the best T.E.F. work to date, I would posit; truly finessed and crafted noise from a highly articulate performer. "Seudoeczema Piogeno" is the most recent component of the Tabula Rasa dermatology series, which may in fact have ended, it being quite a while since "Seudoeczema Piogeno" was released. The disc is similarly robust to "Corrugation", again seething with metals and hardened electronics while exhibiting a sense of decay in the way certain effects slightly subside and taper at moments. The attention to minute detail is perhaps not quite as precise as "Corrugation", but "Seudoeczema Piogeno" is no less attention-demanding as the former. Sadly the cover to the 3" CDR is a very cheap affair, poorly photocopied artwork stuck to the outside of the CD case with an off-centre insert to accompany. A lamentable contrast to the crisp design and print of "Corrugation". Both of these discs were produced in editions of 100 copies.
Reviewed by Chris Groves for Night Science zine (issue 2)
T.E.F. / Bastard Noise Astronomical Sound Images CD (Pac/RecPitchphase)
Astronomical Sound Images is exactly that: two distinct sound images; two different defined voices working together. You hear obvious sounds from the synth and effects of Bastard Noise's Eric Wood and the cut up harsh tracks of T.E.F.'s Kevin Novak. But this is the basis of any collaboration - two artists working together to bring their sounds together. What sets this recording so markedly apart from many other collabs is that while each artist has a clear voice, defined style and sound, the combination, flow and separation of all of these elements is astounding. The sounds on this entire recording combine, merge, re-combine and separate with such fluidity that its hard to believe these two have not worked together before. The sounds meld into each so well at times that itÃÔ hard to believe that this is a first effort (though one that has been in the works for quite some time I believe). I hear very clear moments of both artists, definitive sounds that telltale each person, their own voices/projects that are at times stereo separated and at times mingling together over and under each other. However the way in which all these sounds and definitive styles work together and apart is what marks this collaboration as unique. Styles flow and change from the ambient drone of the Bastard noise style to T.E.F.'s cut-up looped and destroyed selections. Wood's synth will break through over Novak's cut up sounds and loops then become the background over which T.E.F.'s panning and noise bursts showcase. As I said, it's the interplay between these two artists that makes this recording so listenable. Wood's synth forms the base on top of which Kevin loops, dissonant sounds, and cut up noise bursts. Then, smoothly, they combine into a ambient drone with neither style being evident, both voices disappear into something not entirely a part of either. No ones sounds being standout, no style jumps out at the listener and just as easily as it combined it builds back up to separate into the individual sounds and voices. Neither one staying still or prominent for any length of time. No one style becoming stagnant or lingering too long. The overwhelming volume doesn't blow you away at first listen, nor are you impressed by the pure power and harshness of the recording. This isn't something that was thrown together or something that can be defined by a one dimensional phrase or single standout trait (i.e. loud, harsh, etc.) All the elements of both artists are there but it's the variation, combination and flow of this recording that makes it amazing. Both artists use a wide array of their signature talents and sounds to move the listener along and to bring focus to the different parts of this album. This is noise as construction and flow, as though these two have been working together for years. This is noise as musical flow, and pattern without sounding over worked or too constructed. I don't know how it was done, whose source that really is, how many times it changed hands or who mixed what because it doesn't matter. It stands as a great album. Period.Reviewed by SICKNESS
TEF = Kevin Novak, a Texan noisenik and community veteran, collaborator on splits with Prurient and Richard Ramierez. His "Corrugation" is the debut recording for Pitchphase Records (project of Herr Pechuga), editioned at 100 cd-r copies. The operating function here seems to be the maxim "keep the rug moving under their feet." Aesthetically, it's opposed to the expected flood of white light of harsh noise; Corrugation bears closer resemblance to the splatterbreaks (do people still call it that? I always liked the sound of it) of Schizuo, Nomex, etc. The focus is on discontinuity, not development, constantly branching away and away from any idea that sounds like its going to keep the piece going in one direction, and exploring the unfamiliar world of the counter-intuitive. The tonal palette is relatively consistent (bursts, feedback whines, scratches, throbs), but its the editing thats the fun, stubbornly insistent on taking you where it wants to go. Not really ugly noise, it's actually quite graceful.Reviewed by Nirav Soni for: The Melancholy of Resistance
Kevin Novak, the man behind T.E.F., is a veteran noisemaker from Texas, and on this new limited edition CD-R release, he weighs in with just under a half hour of full throttle noise, seemingly chaotic, but anchored by a very strong sense that Novak is in complete control of this barrage on the senses. “Scind” is a startling opener, a disorienting attack of scraping, glitch-impaired machinic screams. Demonic howls and thunderclaps combine into a full-bore assault, as distorted and amped-up percussive sounds clatter in the background like an industrial drum machine malfunctioning. The mix constantly switches from side to side, suddenly stopping as new and equally crushing noises are unleashed. There are momentary pauses in here, breaks of negative space that only make the saturated stereo field of the rest of the track even more overbearing. Even though this is full speed ahead vicious noise, totally blistering and loud, it never seems gratuitous; there’s even a sense of playfulness, as Novak carefully arranges this battery of noises into a gripping and varied whole. The rest of the album is of similarly high quality. “Nnul” finds Novak in (just slightly) more restrained territory, juxtaposing outbreaks of frantic bashing against a gloomy, foreboding backdrop of static and wavering low-frequency drones—once again, the presence of the negative space, this time in much more substantial form, provides a contrast and a context for the more energetic and noisy parts. “Urnd” is like a strangled scream from the depths of T.E.F.’s electronics rig, a steady stream of glistening glitchy noise seeming to hold back whatever dark forces are lurking underneath; it sounds like there could’ve once been a voice somewhere under there, but it’s hard to tell. For whatever reason, T.E.F.’s noise seems to contain far more than its surface brutality and tension. There’s a true emotionality in this music that’s lacking in all but the best noise practitioners, an ability to infuse chaos with pathos and passion. Perhaps it’s the continual hints of non-noise sources—voice, drums, the faint glimmer of glossy melodicism briefly revealed on “Broegt”—that continually surface within this noise. It’s as though Novak is attempting to cover over the signs of the “real” with his alienating noise, but he only partially succeeds, and more inviting passages keep peeking through. This connection is a source of both emotion and mystery on Corrugation, and the continuing desire to unlock the palpable unknowns within this noise keep the album exciting and affecting each time it's played. After the final drones and skipping-CD rhythms of “Ngate” have subsided into a loaded silence, Corrugation lingers on in the memory as far more than a simple accumulation of loud sounds and harsh transitions from grating to suspenseful. It’s a fascinating, compelling album, harsh but not necessarily angry (although it can be at times), overpowering but not sadistic.Reviewed by: Ed Howard for Stylus Magazine
Holy shit, this blew me away so completely that I'm having difficulties expressing how amazing this CD is! While the visual aspect of this release might leave some things to be desired (a gray-ish insert with some minimal art; it works but may be a little on the thin side), the auditory side does not. This is some extremely powerful and varied harsh noise, expertly edited in a manner that at times reminds me of Sickness, although the range here is bigger and the speed less frantic and also more focused. There are totally overdriven attacks of cutup harshness, pulsating lulls and squalls of shifting feedback, as well as some nice swelling low-end, almost death industrial-like. The opener, "Scind", has a somewhat rhythmic aspect to it, but only in the initial loops, and this is soon abandoned for a barrage of cutups and shifts, interspersed by a few somewhat longer sound experimentations. This rapid fire style makes for great diversity of sound, as well as speed, within the tracks, and Kevin Novak utilizes this technique like a master, shifting between sounds and types of sounds without missing a beat (figuratively speaking) - always allowing the sounds and compositions time to breathe. There's enough experimentation and interesting juxtaposition of sound to keep you from ever coming even close to being bored. In fact, Novak manages to combine elements of both throbbing power electronics/death industrial (with no vocals) and raging harsh noise, as on the fifth track "Perdse", without ever breaking the pace nor the flow of the sounds themselves. The pace here is close to perfect, never too fast, never dull or too slow. Only during very brief parts of "Broegt" did my attention wander slightly. The production is nice and clean, slightly heavy on the midrange, but this is no biggie. The CD is perhaps a tad short, only 28 minutes and change, but as with any kind of harsh noise release a short, concentrated rush is preferable to an endlessly long, drawn out descent into repetition and redundant sound walls. TEF is raising the bar noticeably with "Corrugation" and I doubt many could duplicate anything even vaguely resembling this release. All in all a killer first release for this new label and for Kevin Novak of TEF. -JonasReviewed by: Jonas for Fall of Because
I was really excited to get this little mother and now that I got it I have been listening to it nearly every morning before I go to work. Track one sledge hammers though your speakers like a bazooka with cuts and tares that will have you ducking flying debris. TEF splices and at rips the sound with ease and complexity that few could match. Hell I am sweating listening to this and it's causing me to type even a little faster. Man, hell if this a token of what's to come than you can guarantee you are going to need this. Track two is a pleasant mix of chaos and control. While at times sounding down right pretty just to turn around and slash your throat. Thought you liked noise, well buddy, this will make you love it or hate it. Continuing with brilliance in the third track, but with a little less variety than the prior pieces, this kindly does manage to cause a big dent your forehead. This also seems to redefine itself around the two minute mark and then jump back into the beginning while just abruptly yet quietly, fade out. Track four will have you thinking the simple fact is, I am a dickhead, because I don't have enough TEF. Noise is for this world and if you have ever been in an accident than you will know the panic that Kevin conjures up here. Just think about milliseconds before impart and you will have a very good idea of the intensity that is felt here. Next up is a bit more on the quiet side compared to the previous track, but just as interesting if not more. Very atmospheric dark sound scrapes that tickle your fiendish side than catapult you into the sea of feeding sharks and that may friends is just the beginning of your fate. The last track is as harmonious as a buzzard with out legs making an attempt to land on a rocky cliff. Painfully cut up and blended with feedback for a power mind crash that I am sure you will only play over again. Wake up sparkie, the light is at the end of this tunnel. Find out for yourself and contact Kevin directly at firstname.lastname@example.orgReviewed by Joe Lombardo
T.E.F. (Tactical Eradication Function) is the solo-project of Kevin Novak, another member of Black Leather Jesus and collaborator of Richard Ramirez. He presents five new tracks, mostly short pieces, following some patterns of B.L.J./Richard Ramirez, but also providing newest elements and ambiences, some of them close to Japanese extreme noise. Kevin uses a lot of effects-pedals, manipulating high-pitched distortions, violent cut-up dissections, harsh feedbacks, even you can find occasionally some rhythmic pieces. His compositions are changing continuously from start to end, handling frequencies with different effects second by second. Great loud noise, but a limited ration, though we expect more significant things from him in future releases.Reviewed by Kill Faktor for Sekuencias de Culto
Here's a split/collaborative effort between Tender Love and Tactical Eradication Function (perhaps better known as simply T.E.F.) where the two groups collaborate on the first two tracks, and then each offers up a few selections on their own. "Metal Guru" opens with 8+ minutes of what I would tag as rather straightforward, lo-fi harsh noise. There's a lot of overloaded distortion with some thick bass and a few crackling feedback tones fighting through to the surface, etc. "Rise Unbound Serpent Fire", the other collaborative piece, is similar, but longer and not as consistently harsh. There are definitely tons of overloaded tones, but there's a lot more of a bass rumble with the only obvious distortion appearing thinner and subtler. At the same time, though, it's also very redundant… sticking with pretty much the same thing for 10+ minutes. Tender Love's tracks are fairly short and minimal for the most part. "Screaming Wolf (Vegan Saint)" is the first significantly shorter track, starting out with a distant sort of reverberated feel and quickly shifting into some earsplitting harsh noise. "Meta-Tesla AC Transmission" is somewhat similar in structure but has an eerie undercurrent to it, which is more spacious and succinct. T.E.F. ends things out with two monolithic tracks. "Arclight III" is 13 minutes of unrepentant harsh noise: Thick, chaotic, and seemingly layered with a lot of nice subtleties happening. And then there's "Arclight IV" - a massive 21+ minutes of extreme noise. This one's a bit more diverse than most of the other tracks, utilizing a fair amount of noticeable changes and several layers of obscured detail. Good stuff. The lo-fi recordings never bother me here. In fact, I think they work out quite well to some degree. There's a lot of density, but there's also a lot of piercing high-end to the distortion. The packaging is quite cool for being relatively inexpensive. The CD-R comes in a jewel case with a xeroxed booklet and traycard, and a full color xeroxed front cover flap that wraps around the back half of the booklet. The quality of the copies is actually quite good, and the imagery is very interesting. There are tons of icons, diagrams, and designs, most of which seem to be Asian influenced and deal with energy. Very cool. My only problem with this release is that the material is all somewhat one-sided. The two projects don't sound all that unalike one another (there are distinct differences, but in the grand scheme of things there's not all that much separating them), and as a result the two collaborative tracks don't really show how the two projects are combining their approaches. As far as harsh noise goes this material is better than average, and I like the fact that there are ideas at work and the CD-R is properly presented in a tactful D.I.Y. manner, but all the same… as far as the actual compositions, things could be more interesting.Reviewed by Andrew for Aversionline
Here’s a project that bring lesson in noise! You know my legendary laziness when people told me to get this record or that records. This time I truly don’t regret the experience. This record from one of Texas’ harshest is truly a masterpiece! What you have to expect? Nothing but extreme harsh noise at it’s best. T.E.F. (Transient Environmental Feedback) are in the rough and pure kind of noise, you know that will truly make your ears bleed. This is pure harsh electronics with very fast sound changes. The very very heavy sound production will put you on the ass. The sound is truly what gives justice to the noise purity exposed here. People searching for more “constructed” noise or with more ambient stuff, stay away. But in the same time there’s a certain kind of melody in the noise, maybe something only a project like Sickness can achieve. That puts T.E.F. in a very big classe à part along maybe with the kind of Prurient and Sickness. That T.E.F. album is what the label releasing this one should be all about, Harsh Noise and I guess this label owned by Stimbox’ Tim Olivera and Xome’s Bob Scott (which both are noise purists) release only harsh things… Be sure to check out on their website to see what’s coming out on the label so you’ll shit in your pant waiting… And I guess that when the label said it’s destined to be a classic I guess it’s true. This is sincerely a very strong album few project achieve to do in harsh noise. The biggest problem is that I guess it’s limited to 100 copies and was released six month ago so jump on it. It’s on a kind of pro CD which is a CDR, I hope know what I mean. I heard other recent releases from this infamous Texan project are fucking awesome too! So I guess most harsh noise dudes got this one at this moment, in case you don’t check it out, it’s a total masterpiece of US noise!Reviewed by Martin for In The Fence of Reality