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“DD Review: Tehnoloogiline Päike – Technological Sun.”

Score: 6.5/10

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Coming from Estonia as it does, a country so far north, this project finds an ironically “tropical” vibe permeating its strut, and stride. The words, when there are lyrics, are sung in English, but its overall disqualifications from being in any way “traditional” go way past this — its total assimilation to modernity (as well as its influence of East Coast American electronica like Animal Collective and Dan Deacon) abounds and reaches way under the surface. The result can unfortunately often come across as just a band chasing America, but without the cultural firepower to do so.
Technological Sun is worldly and eclectic, but laid-back. And the these spare arrangements with their easy paces are refreshing, in a way, for their lack of drama. As we all know, ambition can easily be overdone in the arts, and a “talent” pool of overachievers often comes across as a bunch of identical droids. So to clarify: Tehnoloogiline Päike are especially influenced by the U.S.’s underground music scene, and not its mainstream.
But ambition’s absence sometimes also falls as just flaccid, and this is unfortunately the Achilles’ heel of what is obviously set up as the Technological Sun’s centerpiece, “If I Just Die,” final track on side A. [1] In fact, it’s a song with almost no intensity, by our common standards. Primary songwriter Evar Anvelt is having an exchange of ideas with God, and God responds in the track as newfound female band member Hannaliisa Uusma. Sweden’s The Knife does something similar actually on the closeur of their classic album Silent Shout, “Still Light,” a monologue which strives to sum up the meaning of an Earthly existence grown so tedious and hopeless (both of these bands are from the extreme north of Europe, mind you). But “If I Just Die” falls into the same trap which Sun’s opener “This Means War” does — repetitiveness, music made with too much of the left brain. “If I Just Die” is similar to “Still Light” in an unfortunate way, being in no wise a strong point within its respective album.
And of course, repetitiveness is typically symptomatic of creative solitude, but Tehnoloogiline Päike is a group, not a single member, and I wouldn’t say Technological Sun is necessarily SODDEN with narcissism, in its entirety. Track 02 “Breaking it,” for instance, probably my favorite song on the album, entirely avoids sentimentality and plays as a multi-dimensional space in itself, an explosion (literally, like a wartime series of explosions) of percussion which perfectly compliments with its very mass the naturally frail but vivid and expressive qualities of Anvelt’s voice. It’s as if, in these calamitous aural surroundings, Anvelt feels perfectly at home and is able to simply assuage the sound show, and in this he’s better than in barer moments when his monologues get indeed a little “mono” — monochromatic, or just overly solitary or earnest.
This brings me to the overall instrumentation of the album, which with the exceptions of the first two tracks, is un-astounding, reliant too much on Moog. The instrument is showcased to an extent almost as if it were Slash’s guitar, juxtaposing itself as essentially a second lead singer, and inducing a definite tedium in the listener’s mind particularly on side B. Simple but layered opener “This Means War” offers what ends up being a rare stylistic outlier, with its percussion punch of both the mallet and stick variety, and the song should be praised as a group effort, and not a simple flatlined brainchild. It almost feels totally divorced from the rest of the album, but at the same time, this is also part of the fun of it.
But to the album’s further discredit, its influences, extending well into Fu** Buttons territory among others, do pile up and sort of often occlude the muse (and they’ve got a Cut Copy album cover as their soundcloud profile picture). For instance, the dual vocals in “Breaking it” would be so much more of a revelation were it not for their reeking of Animal Collective larceny. Technological Sun has got the trappings of a band that’s come a long way, but still has a long way to go, sometimes feeling sort of thrown together — at best an eclectic party into which the synth is a vibrant leader, at worst, banal and underwritten, with Moog as an overused crutch.
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[1] Technological Sun is only available on vinyl and digitally, and they wrote the “side” positionings into the titles (side A/side B) for purposes of the soundcloud interface. Unfortunately, the temporal unpredictability of CD’s I believe would have added some luster to this project’s overall attribute set.

 

 

27 thoughts on ““DD Review: Tehnoloogiline Päike – Technological Sun.”

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