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Tidal Rave - EP Review: Tidal Rave

26 Sep 2017 // A review by Peter-James Dries

There’s this book. A novel. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

I was meant to read it for some paper. Post-Colonial Literature I think. I didn’t. Not really. Just enough to look less incompetent in class. To get the grades.

I did read this one page about kids in a car reading words from signs backwards, and it made me think of my own unusual idiosyncrasies as a child, and how some words still form earworms for me. You know, like a word repeating at odd times during a day with no apparent trigger. Algonquin. Pengwing. Gestalt.    

I was walking down Hanson Street this one time. Post obligatory flat hunt meet the flatmates, back when there were enough flats to hunt. I’d just moved to Wellington, the first time, to finish Uni and start my real life away from Palmerston North, where trivial non-existence sometimes tricks you into thinking you’re happy and comfortable. Just moved, as in my first few days.

There was this sticker. Kittentank.

I didn’t know what a Kittentank was. It was a cool word. I figured it was a band. I didn’t know what kind of band. I didn’t know what kind of music Wellington made in 2010. But now I kind of wish I’d explored the band more, instead of letting their name become an earworm, triggered each time I passed that one power box with that one sticker. The sticker is gone now, but the trigger lives on.

The relevance of this reverie will be hard to find for those that don’t know that two fifths of Tidal Rave were once two fifths of Kittentank. Maybe it isn’t relevant at all. Are two fifths enough to keep the sound alive in a new band? Were Kittentank as simultaneously dark and uplifting as Tidal Rave? If it were, I wouldn’t know because I only have the sticker. And the memory.

What a name though. What a word play. In this justifiably cynical world I know you’d quickly interpret this as sarcasm. It isn’t.

I’m ashamed to admit it took me far too long to make the phonetic connection to tidal wave. It only clicked during an earworm incident that hit while staring out my window across the city from my perch in Brooklyn, here again, once more trying to integrate.

The name is almost onomatopoeic. The songs on Tidal Rave’s eponymous debut EP are like rising waves of sound, picking up layers, instruments and ghosts of influences as they pass.

And then it ends.

Frustrating as it was standing at the Riddiford Street lights and suddenly having to hear the people sharing the space, the brevity of the EP served its purpose. The Tidal Rave EP had flooded my consciousness then just as swiftly as it came, it left, and I wanted more. Like the music, salty and sweet, I utter a “damn you” and “thank you” simultaneously.

I’ve heard the term Surf-Rock being bandied about, which is true if you’re surfing past midnight by the light of bonfire and moon in the waters between Maranui and Wellington International. Not so much surfing a tidal wave, which I imagine would be a little more chaotic.

The music isn’t chaotic. I like how the bass comes through clearly, not hidden behind the guitar like a lot of other albums. It shows you that bass is actually a valid instrument, not an accompaniment. Like mustard. Actually all of the mixing works really well. Everything fits together, but you can also pick out the syncopated riff of a specific guitar. And the harmonic vocal aaahs take me back to that Pixies song at the end of Fight Club. I liked that song.

The music is like the sound that American band Kittie would make if Morgan Lander listened to the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack a bit more and Korn a little less. If Kittie had come from Wellington, and had to deal with the gift and burden being a Kiwi is.

But then Kittie is not a fair allusion, because while I like to remember the good times with Kittie, there were the bad times I choose to forget too. There are also Amanda Palmer moments. Something like Stevie Nicks. Similar, but not the same.  

Sexist as you may think I am being above, I implore you to direct the energy behind any offence taken into making a positive change that makes a difference, as I refer here to the style of singer Emmie Ellis’s voice, not their gender.  

Strange as it may be for someone that enjoys reviewing music, I’m a visual learner, and a lyric sheet would go down a treat, but from what I made out, the lyrical themes cover the zeitgeist of my generation. Disillusionment. In politics, with religion, in the people making up this foul world.

Except that one song, which was either about snuffing Ritalin – as my post daylight saving mind first thought – or Twilight – which I am less connected with, if only because I didn’t fit the tween erotic literature demographic. Being that the title is Horror Story, I now accept the song is more likely aligned with the later than the former, though not specifically. I guess Interview with the Vampire would fit. I feel more for that…

But then I’ve missed the point, haven’t I? Because if there’s one thing I enjoy more than whinging about my current situation, it’s horror movies. Watching them and whinging about them.

The concluding song, Sleekit, which caught my attention with the repeat of my name, I felt an especially strong affinity to, considering the result of that MMP thing that happened over the weekend past. Not many bands could fit the line Dildo Baggins in so smoothly.

I think I just found the soundtrack of my generation. Garage Rock and disillusionment.

I never read the God of Small Things because I was made to read it. I read just enough for the assignments. To make it look like I fit in with the ones in class that actually had talent and did the work.

I’m guilty of that with reviews sometimes too. I listen just enough to get a review done.

But not this album.

There was something about this album. The dark sound, the lyric cynicism, the rising wall of sound. Once I started, it got me listening. And I’m still listening, because there's little else left for people like me. I ain’t got no better place to look forward to, no house to save for. I just got this album, and until Tidal Rave get the next one out, that will have to do.

Review written by Peter-James Dries


About Tidal Rave

Tidal Rave is a garage-pop-surf five piece from Wellington. The band features Emmie Ellis (Sweaty Betty) on vocals and guitar, Kristen Paterson (Death Rattle, Kittentank, Echo Beach) on vocals and guitar, Esther Gedye Taylor on vocals and guitar, Frank Eggleton (Kittentank, Tank Black, Solo Ono, Echo Beach, Frannkkey) on bass and Charlie Camp (Fantails, Punchbowl) on drums.

Formed in 2016, Tidal Rave has been playing shows around Wellington and recorded for the first time in June. All the tracks were recorded and mixed by Tom Bell at Chicks Hotel in Dunedin.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tidal Rave


Tidal Rave
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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