Teebs: Album review – Anicca

LA electronic staple Teebs A.K.A Mtendere Mandowa ends his five-year musical hiatus to grace our eardrums with his new release, Anicca. The title describes a Buddhist teaching regarding the impertinence of all beings and a message Teebs drew importance from,” It’s a reminder to myself that nothing is permanent”. The 47min LP is a creative exploration for Teebs and his out-there-in-the-ether sound yet also leaves ample space for his collaborators to merge with his atmospheric musical palette.

The album artwork is a creation formed by Teebs himself, as have all of his album artworks before Anicca. Mandowa is a highly respected visual artist and his interdisciplinary creativity informs his music. The image on the LP went through rigorous creative drafting by Teebs and friend Megan Geer Alsop. Starting as a drawing, becoming an enamel pin and finally settling on a work consisting of stained glass, which became the image on the cover of the LP.

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Anicca artwork

As opening tracks go Teebs has subverted tradition by beginning Anicca with a patient and lush instrumental track. Atoms song feat. Thomas Stankewicz is a transcendental, sonic offering with sweeping strings sections, organic-sounding percussion and angular harmonies. A track more aligned with late noughties cinematic orchestra than Teeb’s L.A. beat-laden contemporaries. Sudan Archives joins Mandowa on the track, Black Dove which contains a jittery, stilted beat and a vocal performance of ethereal, spectral brilliance.

Collaboration and coalescence are embedded deep within the concept for Anicca and the features are some of the album’s most interesting moments. ‘Studie’ feat. Panda Bear and ‘Threads’ feat. Anna Wise exemplify egoless collaborations in which artist find common ground and seamlessly merge.
Alongside this collaborative success, Teebs has carved his musical alcoves into this album. Tracks ‘Prayers ii’ and ‘Slumber’ are packed with Teeb’s compositional nous and musical maturity. ‘Prayers ii’ from first impression is a rather simple beat but upon further listens it becomes an intricate, compound time rhythm. It lulls you into a complex system of layered musical motifs that expand and contract, casting images of interstellar immensity and taking the listener into the ether.

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Teebs himself

‘Slumber’ is another track which begins in such simplicity but merges with all the other instrumentation to create moments of soaring, delicate beauty. Cherubic harp sounds and heart-rendering strings reciprocate melody lines and gradually become one, moments of spacious atmosphere reaching towards and at the right time finding, cohesion.
On this evidence, the LA electronic veteran (as ridiculous as that sounds) has made an extremely thoughtful and introspective record. Annica is beauty abundant and has plentiful moments of emotive, full-of-the-human-condition soundscapes. These auditory gifts give a human account in a very synthetic musical field. Teebs has managed to project his life experience into Annica with poise and sensibility, creating an album of playful, innocent irresistibility.

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