Recovery Position by Gum Takes ToothRelease date: April 14, 2023
Label: Wrong Speed Records
It’s been a minute since we heard from Gum Takes Tooth. Their exhilarating hybrid of psych noise and techno rush has always been welcome around here but they return to us renewed. The ambulance on the cover suggests medical crisis more than calm recuperation. Curled inwards against the turbulence of the last few years they have only become more themselves. Emerging revitalized, both more human and more machine. On Recovery Position their music overlays industrial, hyperpop, and techno in new ways. It is going to be absolutely fearsome through a big pa.
‘Armistice’ opens on low bass pulses and whispery processed vocals, soon interrupted by deep drone waves and rolling percussive clicks. By the end it’s frantically swirling, beset by bursts of contorted noise and fraying sheets of static sound. It still has that unfolding intensity of their older records but in a glistening, alien, new skin. On ‘Trust This Least’ the sound is squirming, elastic, uncomfortably tightening around you as the floor tilts and Jussi whispers “cruelty is here”.
As before the vocals are buried inside the music, they don’t offer you much to hold onto. The most noticeable transformation is that Tom’s drum kit has been swallowed entirely by the machine. Where in the past its reassuring clatter grounded you in their hyper drive psychedelic warp it has now been washed away by the waves of artificial sound it triggers sending us spinning out in the tide along with it. There are less organic textures on the surface but more organic patterns beneath. The tracks bloom and contort in unexpected ways. Slipping free of familiar structures the music flows and mutates. Pools of noise skimmed by clusters of beats. Attempting to map its elements is so disorienting you can’t help asking what they’re doing, or how?
As the album progresses it flexes its new muscles, growing and moving. ‘Small Arms’ is hectic, the bass fractured amid jabbing beats and stammering vocals while an insistent melody circles in pinprick notes. It shakes and judders, writhing with synthetic sound, willing itself alive. ‘A Healing Hell’ is the track that most invokes the sense of the night time ambulance ride on the cover. Gnarly, knotted sound and slowly escalating panic. Long screaming drones like tube trains passing in the tunnels. Although the beat is actually quite slow and steady there’s an acceleration of anxiety, of overload.
That gnawing tension is mercifully released on final tune ‘Octavia Eclipse’. An absolute banger, the album’s unruly sound world coalesces around intense beat rushes offset with jabbering tones and ringing ‘Metal On Metal’ percussion hits. The last section fades away, settling on a more even keel before disappearing into the night. Four albums in Gum Takes Tooth have evolved into a more realised version of themselves, a fully integrated man machine. Thrilling and unique, Recovery Position is their most extraordinary and impressive record yet.