Telefon Tel Aviv have progressed further between their first two albums than some projects do their entire career. Their 2001 debut, Fahrenheit Fair Enough, was on constant rotation in my life for months and months, and keeps reappearing years later. Combining lush ambience and kinetic glitch, basically, it was exactly what I needed at the time. It was the early 90s high school shoegazer in me coming to terms with the guy who went to college and followed dreampop into ambient guitar stuff (Kranky) into electronic ambient like Selected Ambient Works II into other AFX craziness into complex Photek dnb and then the hyper-insanity of Squarepusher and his ilk. Somewhere along that timeline came lots of other stuff, I don't recall at all where all the modern avant-garde composers started appearing in my life discography, but it seems that the giant smoothie that these influences make fits TTA to my ears perfectly. Joshua Eustis and Charlie Cooper reportedly came together because of their mutual love for complex classical composers, but I still like to think that one of them provides the lush, film-score synths and the other is the spastic beat-splitter.
When Hefty Records put out Telefon Tel Aviv's 2nd album hit in 2004, I was thrown completely off. I should have heard it coming but I didn't. I was too busy paying attention to the headphone defying hijinks of songs like "8 Track Project Cut" from their limited edition Immediate Action EP (released between the two long-players). However, "Sound in a Dark Room" hinted as to what was going to happen much moreso. A laid back, late-night chill vibe with... soul! Processed female vox flutter over a much more spread out sound than the previous album. But there was still no full on vocalist! Map of What Is Effortless changed that pronto. With the edition of the Ron Isley-esque vocals of L.A. songwriter Damon Aaron and L'Altra vocalist Lindsay Anderson, this album was a whole new beast. "I Lied" is what modern radio soul music should sound like.
Telefon Tel Aviv - 8 Track Project Cut
Telefon Tel Aviv - Sound in a Dark Room
Telefon Tel Aviv - I Lied