April 18, 2006

My Bloody Forehead: 8 Melodies from Tera Melos


Just the term instrumental music makes most people cringe when they hear it, and its obvious why; popular music in the 20th century is almost devoid of the genre. In fact, we look to the lead singer to provide us with the image of a certain band, to be the physical manifestation of music.
Tera Melos wants the music to represent itself; with a sharp kick to the head.
Sacramentos singerless four-piece defies the world to place them, fusing improvisational jazz with elements of break-beat techno and hardcore, the Sacramento spits the fury of hardcore punk while maintaining the elegance and control of a well-trained jazz quartet.
Tera Melos self-titled debut consists of 8 tracks; each track imaginatively dubbed Melody and numbered one through eight. By far the most dynamic of these is Melody 5, progressing from brick walled staccatos to on the nose stops, to fluid ambient jazz runs accented by quick, careful cymbal-play.
The frenzy of chunky, drum driven riffs and off-beat breaks into complex guitar noodling comes to a reluctant head about 5 minutes in, where an amp fizzles out and melts into a scratchy break-beat over sweetly distorted keyboard arpeggios.
The bands challenge is obvious: how do you get people to listen as an instrumental? Tera Melos answers in spades. The music in its purity and rawness is the catalyst, drawing the ears of both post-punks and classicists.
The band had a few words for FSU last week:

What made you decide to skip a vocalist? It seems nowadays people want more whine and hair gel for their buck.

Actually we searched for a singer for quite sometime before we started playing shows. We tried out a handful, but no one's interpretations of our songs seemed to be adding anything to the music, which was most important. At this point we aren't actively looking for a vocalist but we're still open to the idea. Also, our record does contain vocals that were carefully placed and used as a layering tool or another instrument instead of typical words placed over two-and-a-half-minute pop songs.

How long has Tera Melos as it is now been together?

We've been writing music as a band for nearly two years. We've been playing shows for just over one year now.

I read that this is the bands first CD release ever. How was the studio experience vs. live performance?

Recording our musical ideas to tape that would eventually be available to other people was a incredible experience for us. We worked with a rad engineer from Sacramento that goes by the name of Eric Broyhill (!!!, Zao, Knapsack).
Our live show is a very different entity. There is lots of improvisation in regards to song structure and transition. We're a very raw band; our instruments get broken, gear malfunctions, guitars go out of tune, people get hurt on occasion, but that's been what our live show is about from day one. All of these elements help to solidify us as an extremely personal and "human" band.

Are you guys tired after all that touring? Would you make a stop in Frostburg on a Thursday night sometime? There tends to be about 5000 bored college students bar hopping all evening on any given Thursday or Friday night.

We'd love to come play you're town. College towns have been rad to us. We thrash on them and in return we get beer showers.

I just watched someone's head gash opening and closing on your Myspace account. Tell me about your live shows/the upcoming DVD release.

Live shows really need to be experienced first hand. There has been many a strange occurrence when we are playing these songs in a live environment.
We would love to release a DVD documentation of our band at some point. It's in the stars, but not a main priority right now.

There are definitely some complicated melodies/rhythms going on with Tera Melos. Two of you were in a improv jazz class together? Who would you consider to be influences?

Three of us took semesters of jazz improv classes. Jazz concepts have most definitely played a big part in the character of this band.
Ultimately any piece of music we have ever heard, good or bad, has in some way or another influenced the stuff we write. Be it the radio, movie soundtracks, commercials, other bands, etc. etc.- all of it has shaped the way we interpret/create music.
As far as bands go, we don't really have any specific influences. We weren't sitting around listening to (insert band name) one day and thought, "Hey we really like this band, let's start a band that sounds just like them."

And the moral of the Tera Melos story?

Ultimately, we're going to have fun doing what we want to do. We really enjoy pushing the envelope of what we are capable of with sound and hope that people can relate to our musical concepts- we have no political or social agendas; our focus is solely on our music. We would also like to make this band as interactive as humanly possible, so feel free to dance, freak out, attack us, make up words to our songs, design DIY t-shirts, make flyers, kill or create something while listening to our music, etc, etc; anything your little heart desires.

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