In Frank Herbert’s 1973 novel Hellstrom’s Hive, the Dune writer tells of a sinister narrative surrounding the maverick scientist Nils Hellstrom, who has created a meticulously constructed Hive underneath his Oregon farmhouse. Therein, he oversees a subterranean order of 50,000 insect-human hybrid life-forms. Ultimately his plan being for the inhabitants of the Hive to usurp humanity and take over the world.
The decade thus far may not have seen anything quite so daunting, but it’s provided more than its fair share of challenges. Yet in such dystopian environments, Teeth Of The Sea flourish. This band has created a kaleidoscopic inner world all its own in Hive, their sixth and most outlandish album.
Fundamental to Teeth Of The Sea’s mission thus far is that this band can go anywhere and make short work of any obstacles in their path. Unfettered by genre distinctions or expectations, the only limits of this trio - comprising Sam Barton, Mike Bourne and Jimmy Martin - are those of its imagination. It therefore follows that inspiration flowed into Hive from all dimensions, with the band’s sphere of influence - the science fiction, trash culture and cinematic atmospherics by which they’ve fuelled their mission thus far - expanding to take in everything from Italo-disco to minimal techno, from dubbed-out studio madness to their most brazen forays thus far into pop songwriting. Here is a headspace where the psychic charges from records by Labradford, Nurse With Wound, Vangelis, The Knife, Nine Inch Nails and John Barry can happily co-exist.
These disparate pathways cohere and coalesce to create a vivid experience rich with emotion and intrigue. A commission to create a live soundtrack at London’s Science Museum for a documentary on the Apollo moon landings gave flight to the trilogy of tracks - Artemis, Æther and Apollo which are summarily imbued with the dreamlike wonder and existential peril of the mission itself. A collaboration with vocalist Kath Gifford (Snowpony, The Wargs, Sleazy Tiger) set loose Butterfly House, which transmutes synthpop stylings into something uniquely radiant, haunting and melancholic. Get With The Program -sung by Mike Bourne - is meanwhile no less than a noise-fuelled, speaker-shaking electro-industrial banger.
Megafragma, meanwhile, is the most experimental track this band has yet created, a collaboration with engineer and co-conspirator Giles Barrett that morphs form and structure in search of new epiphanies - ‘Simple Headphone Mind’ and Roxy Music’s ‘The Bogus Man’ may have formed some of the cues for this nine-minute avant-epic but its trajectory was one the band were happy to submit to external forces.
Hive is more than just a transformative force from subterranean origins. It’s an alchemical headspace where monochrome animates into vivid colour. It may not be a carefully ordered insectoid militia set to overthrow society, but it’s a transmission which transcends anything Teeth Of The Sea have thus far offered in their time on Earth.
Step inside Hive, if you dare.