ALBUM REVIEW - Telephone Exchange - Maschinelles Lernen - Post Image - (300x300) ARTIST: Telephone Exchange

 RELEASE: Maschinelles Lernen 

 RELEASE DATE: January 5th 2019

 RECORD COMPANY: Ongakubaka Records 

Do you remember those films where some or another adventurer, archaeologist, mercenary or traveller discover some sort of stone, jewel or emerald that was increasingly hard to find and was even harder to identify? Do you remember the scene where the character finds the prize and holds it up, perhaps so happy that they begin to jump about and celebrate? There’s that feeling of a prolonged search, finally made worthy by the reward they hold in their hands that was camouflaged in its surroundings. This writer’s prolonged search has been through a metaphorical jungle of music that pertains to be ‘experimental’ and ‘genre pushing’ but ultimately leads nowhere. The jewel is ‘Maschinelles Lernen’, the debut album from Mexico-based psychonauts ‘Telephone Exchange’. What a release; free of the confines of genre, destructive in its bizarre push to either trample or re-invent what is commonly known as pop music and ultimately such a reward to the listener that you wonder why you’ve never heard the band before. The album is officially released on the 5th January 2019 via the good folks over at Ongakubaka Records and is available to pre-order right now on various formats via ongakubakarecords.bandcamp.com

‘Maschinelles Lernen’ opens with the off-beat ‘Index of Bounds’ which is essentially around five minutes of ‘ba-ba-ba’ kind of almost barbershop quartet gone very wrong. Underneath of the singing is the disgusting grind of a noise-laden/distorted/fuzzed guitar that occasionally goes out of key (intentionally). The first time I heard it I thought ‘oh my god, I’ve finally found a band whose self-proclamation of genre pushing is actually true’, and this was statement was continually re-instated as the song continued with more wordless singing into its second section wherein the guitars sounded like a cheese grater. ‘Poppies Biscuits’ takes a more conventional (sort of) angle; it’s almost like an early rock ‘n’ roll song from the sixties. The actual tune and the melody seem appropriately psych, yet the lo-fi production and (again) occasionally off-key passages make things all the more weirder. There’s even what I guess you could call a ‘guitar solo’ yet it sounds more like a train engine with distortion pedals run through the sound… This album was sounding increasingly like the aforementioned jewel I was searching for. ‘Plevna’ is perhaps the most ‘linear’ song on the entire release, much of it centres around a delicate riff and strong, lo-fi vocal performance which calls to mind what could be defined as jangle pop. The guitars pitch bend slightly, and massive gaps are left between some strummed chords, making the whole song land somewhere between romantic and awkward… in a good way.

Two of the albums best tracks are actually the most bizarre on the entire release. ‘The Bureaucratics of Parametricism’ relies on either a sampled section of speech or one of the band members performing a spoken word piece (I’m not really sure which it is) over the top of a beautifully, poignant piece of music that sounds at times like the previous tracks meld of psych and garage rock and a demented kind of shoegaze. Following on from this is the fantastic track ‘User Manual’ which opens with a beautifully danceable almost swing-beat before divulging into a rougher post-punk passage by the band. The song bounces back and forth between these two sections of music as well as a sample of somebody explaining, what sounds to be, an audio user manual, and the bands own characteristically off-beat low-pitched vocals. ‘Machine Learning’ is a monster 11 minute plus post-punk ballad that seems to also incorporate many other genres of music. To fully explain the song here would do it injustice; just go and listen to it instead.

There is something extremely satisfying about this release. Whether it’s the lo-fi layout and tones that feed throughout, the obtuse chord progressions and sounds or just pure weirdness, I’m not too sure. ‘Maschinelles Lernen’ has the same appeal as great outsider art does: it appeals to us who seek out something wherein rules are not so much barriers but things you aim to surpass and transcend. The simplicity of this release also bolsters its appeal, nothing here is aiming to be anything in particular, which makes it all the harder to describe. Furthermore, ‘Telephone Exchange’ shed all the pretentiousness and polished sound of many boring and bland psych bands making music. It most certainly will not be for everybody, but for those interested, this may be one of the most enjoyable releases to come out on the underground psych circuit in quite a while. Pure fun, pure experimentation, pure sound.

5/5

LINKS:

ongakubakarecords.bandcamp.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Cam Phillips - Contributing Writer

Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.