Fort Worth natives Jeremy Lantz, 33, and Joshua Wrinkle, 30 –– together known as the techno duo Tidals –– were once asked to describe the music they write, record, and perform in clubs around North Texas. “Future punk doom dub” was thrown out as a joke, because, the guys said, they couldn’t think of anything else.
It’s a clunky description but not an inaccurate one. The evocative, alternately scary and soothing tracks on Tidals’ 2013 debut album, Experiments, sound more than a little futuristic: lots of mechanized, digitally manipulated sounds, voices, and beats. The tunes are a little bit punk, in attitude and approach if not necessarily in style. (Both guys played in punk bands as teens, and Lantz said they still proudly uphold the DIY ethos, from self-recording at Wrinkle’s home studio to releasing their recordings themselves.) The vibe can be very doom-y and ominous in chaotic, electro-apocalyptic tunes like “Dream Weeper” and “To Literally Leave One’s Heart in Matamoros.” And the metallic spine in most of the songs is a dub-style syncopated bass-and-drum line that often changes several times in the course of a few minutes. However unpredictable the final product may be, the creative process that results in a finished Tidals soundscape is always the same.
“Josh and I work on ideas for a song separately, then meet at his place and merge them” via a guitar, synthesizer, drum machine, and an effects processor, Lantz said. “We wind up creating layers in each song. Josh is definitely the left-brain half [of the band]. He’s very logical and structured. I’m right brain, a little more shoot-from-the-hip and intuitive, I guess. In the end, each song is like a story, with chapters and plot twists. We try to create suspense [in the tracks], like you’d have in a movie scene.”
Another key ingredient in Tidals’ industrial gumbo is voice samples from several preferred sources: famous horror flicks such as The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby; real-life cult leaders such as Charles Manson and Jim Jones (a personal obsession of Wrinkle’s); and feverish Spanish-language dialogue from the films of surrealist director Luis Buñuel, a favorite of Lantz’. But despite the references to horror and horrible things, Tidals doesn’t come across as the Iron Maiden of ambient music. The sonic textures aren’t maudlin or heavy-handed, and Lantz insists that the frequent pop-culture allusions to supernatural and man-made evil are often satirical pokes at the routine follies of organized religion and politics. Lantz is a self-proclaimed news junkie, and he’s more likely to be listening to NPR while driving around than any of the artists who’ve been major influences on him and Wrinkle, including Fort Worth dub giants Sub Oslo and the superstar experimental New York City duo Darkside.
Lantz and Wrinkle have been performing together as Tidals for a couple of years now, but it’s not the first time they’ve collaborated as music-makers. Both played in a more straightforward noise rock band called The Chimeneas that dissolved about four years ago, when Wrinkle decided to relocate for a while to Johannesburg, South Africa, and do volunteer work with a nongovernmental organization. He came back with a strong love for intricate curry spices and the even more complex polyrhythms of Afro-beat. Lantz, a student at Tarrant County College, is preparing to transfer to the University of Texas at Arlington to become a Spanish teacher. He’s also about to embark on a several-week trip to China, traveling for the sake of travel, something both he and Wrinkle love to do. They’re currently composing their second album with an eye toward accentuating international rhythms, but as with everything Tidals records, neither musician is sure exactly how it’s going to turn out. Lantz and Wrinkle are talking to a few small labels both local and national about releasing the new recording. Later this year, they hope to do more out-of-state touring –– especially some East Coast gigs booked with musicians who’ve become friends via the internet. In the meantime, Lantz said, Tidals will focus on entertaining the band’s two most important audience members: themselves.
“I don’t really see us as an ambient or industrial group, although I respect and enjoy some of those bands,” he said. “We’re just bored with playing rock music, and we’re trying to entertain each other, I guess.”
9pm Fri at Matt Vickers’ benefit show w/Spacebeach, Doom Ghost, Jack Thunder & The Road Soda at The Where House, 2510 Hemphill St, FW. $5. 817-308-9762.