News flash: Fort Worth is not as cool as a lot of us probably think it is. For all we have to recommend our fair burgh –– The Modern! The Usual! Fort Worth Contemporary Arts! –– there’s a lot that indicates that we are decades if not millennia behind similarly sized North American cities. Want a fancy-schmancy craft cocktail? You’ve got about five places to choose from. (See: Last Call, pg. 28.) Got a progressive piece of art to display? Well, there’s the same number of progressive galleries in town now as there was 30 years ago. And if your music is not A.) rock, B.) punk, C.) metal, D.) hip-hop, or E.) country, you might as well not even live here. Which is a shame, because not only is Tidals doing something different in Fort Worth, but the duo of Jeremy Lantz and Joshua Wrinkle is doing something different in the world of electronic music (not that I’ve listened to every piece of electronic music ever performed, but having lived in New York City during the short-lived yet influential illbient movement, I’ve listened to enough).
Tidals’ new album is eerily and happily unclassifiable. Seplica’s Bedroom is synthetic and groove-oriented (and, save for many found voice samples, instrumental), but it’s not as hip-hoppy as the handiwork of DJ Spooky or Peanut Butter Wolf and not as melodic as Toro Y Moi or Panda Bear. But still. The nine-track collection, produced by Jordan Richardson, a.k.a. Son of Stan (Oil Boom, Bummer Vacation, The Longshots), draws the listener in and holds him firmly in place. From a small palette, Lantz and Wrinkle manage to fashion dynamic sonic tapestries that don’t move around too much but shift just enough to keep you listening. On “Exotic Pets,” synthesized handclaps and moody legato synth lines coalesce over a steady, trebly kick drum as voices ramble and ping-ponging old-school video game noises go bleep and bloop. “Curse Your Blood” has the same DNA but is almost wholly different. Over what sounds like an angry African-accented man making a declaration, thumping bass beats and quick handclaps give rise to echoing accordion-esque moans and two alternating piano chords. You’re tempted to dance, but you simply can’t.
Nearly all of the album’s found voice samples are in foreign tongues, which gives Seplica’s Bedroom an international flavor. And, Lord knows, Fort Worth could use the diversity. Seplica’s Bedroom is the follow-up to 2012’s self-produced debut, Experiments. For the sophomore effort, Richardson was Lantz and Wrinkle’s first choice. “We wanted to have a clearer sound,” Lantz said. “We felt that [Experiments] was so poorly executed. We wanted to go the professional route, and [Richardson] was excited to do something different.”
Tidals will celebrate the release of Seplica’s Bedroom (on cassette tape and digital only) with a performance on Wednesday, April 1, at The Grotto and on Saturday, April 4, in Dallas at the Crown and Harp, but Lantz and Wrinkle have already begun work on their third album. Their new material, Lantz said, is “completely different” and is partly inspired by Lantz’ recent trip to Europe. “It’s just dreamier, more dub-influenced and with guitar parts that weren’t on other records.”
Tidals has been in and out of the Fort Worth home studio of producer John Nuckels, who co-founded North Texas’ most popular and successful dub band, Sub Oslo, and who also is in Wire Nest, a chillwave project with Sub Oslo bandmate Frank Cervantez. Wire Nest: Lantz gets frustrated because every time he tries to book a Tidals show, talent buyers try to set him up with Wire Nest. “We love playing with Wire Nest, but [bookers] can be more creative than that. … I think a [diverse] bill is better than the same three bands sounding alike.”
In Fort Worth, Tidals are “misfits,” Lantz said. “In Dallas, we do well, and the Denton response is much better than in Fort Worth. Fort Worth, they want garage rock. I listen to that too, but we just happen to play electronic music.”
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