Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It was sunrise when we started

Over at Resonator, I had the sad task today of posting about the death of Charlie Cooper, of the New Orleans/Chicago-based electronic pop group Telefon Tel Aviv. If you're not familiar with TTA under that name, you've heard their work: they've had their hands all over stuff by Nine Inch Nails, just to cherrypick one name.

The official announcement is over there. For those that care, I had the good fortune to cover *two* Telefon records, both 2004's Map Of What Is Effortless and this year's Immolate Yourself. If you like gorgeous, dark electronic pop compositions, with seriously intense production work, both of these albums are pretty much perfect. In 2004 I spent a day with the two guys in Telefon, Josh Eustis and Charlie Cooper, for a now-defunct electronic music magazine, and ended up writing a rather large piece on the sheer brilliance of Map Of What Is Effortless's chopped, spliced R&B vocals and micro-processed drums for a now-defunct electronic music magazine. For my efforts, they sent me a signed, one-sided, hand-stamped 12" record of their song "My Week Beats Your Year". I played the hell out of it when I had turntables. That version, the exact same recording as the one on the album, always sounded better to me.

I've already declared Immolate Yourself as one of my top albums of 2009. It came out really recently, possibly today even, on one of my favorite record labels in the world-Ellen Allien's Bpitch Control, a home, a haven really, for smart, forward-thinking electronic pop compositions.

I had hoped to see them tour again.

The brilliance of Josh and Charlie, together, as Telefon Tel Aviv, was a weird sort of brother/lover interplay that the two had, where they would, within the course of a live set or a studio album, fight and curse and smile and cry and fall apart and rebuild and pour their souls into what they were crafting, and that's exactly what their music sounds like.

I encourage you to scroll through the Res Mag stuff posted on TTA, and have a listen. My interview with Josh Eustis (the surviving half of TTA) from late last year is up (it was because of this interview, solely from Josh's recommendation therein, that I picked up the Grouper album that I've grown to fall oh-so in love with), and there are a bunch of individual TTA songs, including my favorite Telefon song ever: "I Lied".

I've done, here, an awful job at eulogizing a person I really didn't know, and so instead I choose to let their music, beautiful and pensive and dark and at-times-frustrating and always-heady and also pretty much nearly always perfect, do the talking.

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