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The Haul 2010: Tarentel's We Move Through Weather

Tarentel – We Move Through Weather 2LP – Temporary Residence, 2004 (9/17 Charlie Wagner)

Tarentel's We Move Through Weather

Hearing this album again in the midst of my deep-dive into Mogwai’s discography makes me wonder if I chose the wrong group to spotlight. Tarentel received comparisons to Mogwai when 1999’s From Bone to Satellite was released, which both made sense—both groups plied their trade in guitar-centric post-rock—and sold Tarentel’s emerging drone and ambient tendencies short. Whereas Mogwai’s more recent albums are essentially a refinement of their 1999 release, Come on Die Young, Tarentel’s much more severe evolution has laid waste to the careful arrangements and distorted build-ups of From Bone to Satellite. I personally prefer the more familiar terrain of From Bone to Satellite and the superb compilation Ephemera to Tarentel’s later, more challenging work, but the elegant atmosphere of 2001’s The Order of Things, the rhythmic drone of 2004’s We Move Through Weather, and the psychedelic blur of 2007’s Ghetto Beats on the Surface of the Sun each offer a decidedly different take on Tarentel.

If each of these releases sounds like the product of a different band, that’s not entirely off-base. Only Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Danny Grody remain from the Satellite line-up for We Move Through Weather, with the prolific Kenseth Thibodeau having departed for projects like Sleeping People, Howard Hello, and Prints. Two of the additions signal changes in Tarentel’s sonic profile, since Tony Cross is credited with violin, waterphone, and hydrophone, while Steve Dye is credited with bass clarinet, clariphone, flubaphone, gankogui, and double ski horn (some of which are custom-made instruments). Former Sonna drummer Jim Redd makes the biggest difference, since his bustling tribal rhythms are pushed up front for “Bump Past, Cut Up Through Wind,” “A Cloud No Bigger Than a Man’s Head,” and “Hello! We Move Through Weather.”

If you’re hoping to hear “For Carl Sagan, Part Two,” look elsewhere. This emphasis of droning horns and tribal rhythms over discernible guitar figures distances We Move Through Weather from both From Bone to Satellite and The Order of Things. Melody is hard to come by, with the minimal piano work of “Bump Past” and “We’re the Only Ghosts Here” providing welcome exceptions to this rule. Instead, We Move Through Weather turns its countless instrument credits into a disorienting fog with few paths out. Specifying the title not as “We’re moving through this cloud” but “We’re moving through use of this cloud” clarifies things slightly, but We Move Through Weather does not value clarity.

I’ll return to my original thought on whether Tarentel Discographied would be more rewarding than Mogwai Discographied with an epiphany: Tarentel’s discography is already set up perfectly for a chronological exploration. You start with the structured post-rock of From Bone to Satellite, which presumably appeals to the widest audience. If you’re still interested, Ephemera collects a number of rewarding variations on this template. Next, you cast aside the crescendos for the ambient The Order of Things. Like to take that ambience a step further? Get weirder? Try out the miasmic We Move Through Weather. Still on board? Well, Tarentel’s got four twelve-inches of drifting psychedelic fuzz for you with Ghetto Beats from the Surface of the Sun. It’s hard to extract a single, monumental song from We Move Through Weather to use as a signpost of their progress—there’s no “2 Rights Make 1 Wrong” here. Unlike Mogwai, Tarentel don’t have song types like “the vocal slow-core ballad,” “the moody crescendo crasher,” or “the mellow, vaguely electronic breather.” Tarentel doesn’t return to what worked before or improve on past attempts. They just move forward.