Telefon Tel Aviv – Dreams Are Not Enough (2019)
[Ghostly, September 2019, Digital Streaming]
Joshua Eustis was left as the primary kommandant of the Telefon Tel Aviv project in 2009, after the devastating accidental death of his bandmate Charles Cooper. During this time, Eustis largely left the future of TTV as a big question mark, though it didn’t stop him from continuing to garner heavy experience within the music scene. Touring with Nine Inch Nails & Puscifer, continuing the dark synthpop angle of Immolate Yourself with his work in The Black Queen, releasing solo material under the Sons of Magdalene moniker; the list goes on. New TTV was never really out of the question- Eustis had stated he had been trying to make new music for the project all the way back in 2012- but it really is a welcome surprise to see such a big name back in the scene, even if for a short stint, especially as it seems most of the once-acclaimed IDM artists are now resigned to making bargain bin ambient music for the rest of their days.
That said, this project sounds wholly different from TTV records in the past, the closest being probably Map of What Is Effortless from all the way back in ’04. It’s presented in a similar vein to Dntel records of yore, i.e. glitched, ethereal electronic music with heavy emphasis on melancholic moods, enigmatic and very melodic vocal performances, and unique methods of percussion. It is, however, a lot more jagged in its tone, possibly picked up from Eustis’ work in the industrial rock scene. It’s actually fairly similar to Low’s Double Negative, and although I think this is a lot more convincing than that album, it does suffer from the similar problem of being too saccharine and melodramatic with some of its soundscapes. I think a large amount of subtlety needs to be thrown out the window anyway when it comes to albums like this that have such a large ambient pop influence anyway, so it’s not really a big deal. The album as a whole is still filled to the brim with rich, beautiful textures that are especially emotionally evocative in the face of the loss Eustis has suffered.
If this is TTV’s swan song I would consider it very appropriate and wish Eustis the best of luck in his future endeavors. He’s earned it.