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From Bone to Satellite

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Album Review

In the late 1990s during Tarentel's genesis it wouldn't have been a stretch to classify them along with the myriad other producers of what would become known, as is usual with music clichés, pretentiously and inadequately, as post-rock. That they would evolve so far beyond their rock-like origins only serves to illuminate the limitations of classifying music of any sort into genres. Be that as it may, we have to call it something and as such, Tarentel's first full-length is an epic of a post-rock album. The title From Bone to Satellite is an obvious reference to man's evolution, and as this is indeed an ever-evolving band; this document is an accurate representation of the band during its formative years. Which is not to say it lacks sophistication; however, the prehistoric blunt-edge tools found here are of more primitive application in carving out more traditional rock structures than the high-minded abstractions that would be achieved in the band's subsequent years. But within all of Tarentel's work lies a common method and goal: the use of repetition to create a transcendental state of mind. "Steede Bonnet" opens with a 12-minute descending guitar figure and a slow build that rivals the tension and release of Godspeed You Black Emperor! minus the string section. With its floating spaghetti western motif and glorious climax it embodies the very meaning of psychedelic music. It flows right into "When We Almost Killed Ourselves" which, after a minute of static, bursts into a hectic galloping riff of math rock complexity (likely abetted by bassist Kenseth Thibideau who provides a similar rarefied propulsion behind Rumah Sakit) that at about the halfway point dissolves into a more placid coda, confounding expectations by reversing the usual format for dynamics within music of this ilk. The next two tracks stretch beyond epic proportions by pushing the 20-minute mark and never getting dull. "Ursa Minor, Ursa Major" starts out in pure Floyd-ian homage but with considerably less pathos and more bravado as it shifts into high Motorik gear then blasts through a grandiose dynamic section which then culminates in languid post-coital musings. "For Carl Sagan" is the apex of the album — a patiently unfolding waltz of sublime beauty and graceful crescendo. And "Strange Attractors" closes the album with a determined march headlong into the face of doom that abruptly drops off into the silence of deep space, the twinkling of distant stars represented by guitar harmonics and a beatless drone, all of which, of course, explode into a full-frontal assault of headbanging rock caliber and Sonic Youth dissonance to eventually be set free to roam the infinite galaxies once more. In a way it's a pity that Tarentel had to evolve, because this, their most valuable contribution to the post-rock canon, is quite possibly their zenith.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The line-up of Trevor Montgomery, Daniel Paul Grodinski, Jonathan Joseph Hughes, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, and Jeffery Rosenberg have been composing lengthy, indie-ambient ballads under the moniker of Tarentel. Since their 1998 debut EP, this San Francisco quintet have been churning out Brian Eno-influenced instrumentals with the help of the Baltimore based label The Temporary Residence Limited. This label eventually put out...
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From Bone to Satellite, Tarentel
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