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By the End of Tonight/Tera Melos

A Complex Full of Phantoms

Between Motion Turns It On's Rima, Bring Back the Guns' Dry Futures and By the End of Tonight's half of split LP A Complex Full of Phantoms, southeast Texas officially has a true prog scene. Where MTIO thrives on texture and improvisation, Alvin's BTEOT aims to break the riff-density scale, assembling bits of Don Caballero, the Mercury Program, Dillinger Escape Plan and the Fucking Champs into musical structures as tight as a monkey's fist. Their unrelenting intensity and playful refusal to repeat anything at all can make BTEOT difficult to digest, but their songs' construction — impossible to predict yet effortlessly, indubitably logical — reveals a subtle, powerful intelligence. That's good prog in a nutshell. Yet even BTEOT are surpassed in capriciousness on Phantoms' second half by California genre-jumpers Tera Melos, who sound like Hella or the Cancer Conspiracy one minute — drummer Vince Rogers even pulls off a decent imitation of Hella's Zach Hill — and the Postal Service or Menomena the next. Although Tera Melos lack BTEOT's sense of purpose and flow, they are invigoratingly adventurous; their unannounced jumps from jazzy math-rock to mellow indie-rock to full-on electronic dance music may induce sonic whiplash in some listeners. Best is their emo/math-rock fusion of "Last Smile for Jaron," a welcome update of a subgenre largely abandoned since the late '90s.

 
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