Lovely sinister creepoid electronic sounds from Transtilla on their debut Transtilla 1 (OPA-LOKA RECORDS OL1901). This album lulls you into a false sense of complacent well-being with its opening cut, which leads one to expect a soothing ambient bathtub and serves as a fine trap for the unsuspecting victim. Soon, that bathtub will be filled with poison, acid, and small barracuda. In slow motion, a charnel house may be recreated in miniature.
This isn’t to say the duo of Anne-Chris Bakker and Romke Kleefstra have a sociopathic side, but this claustrophobic terra-zone of subdued mayhem leaves ample room for the demented mind to imagine many horrors. It seems they too favour the dark side, the evil empire, the zones of Mr Mephisto, the black cauldron…if you get my drift. They have for a time played in the Kleefstra / Bakker / Kleefstra trio, who I never heard, but they made a number of records for Low Point, Tombed Visions, Midira, and Northern Twilights. When KFK did it live, apparently the music would sometimes venture down the pathway labelled “noisy and harsh”, which gave today’s duo the idea to explore further inside this cloistered avenue of aching mystery and headachy pain.
“Tension” is the password of the day, but somehow the pair manage to keep emotional excess locked firmly in a jar (a jar of decaying vegetable matter on the shelf of their underground parlour), and while this record may please fans of Norman Westberg at some level, Transtilla are nowhere near as sentimental as he is…and that’s saying something. I mean that they keep everything icy cold and distant, yet still enchanting enough to lure the floating transient in from the fairy woods outside. In another time and place, these charmers may have wound up as the inspiration for one of Hans Christian Andersen’s stories.
Favourite track – ‘Lavender and Mulberry 1959’ for its robotic styled deathliness, though ‘Poasen’ runs a close second for its nerve-shredding poise and calm. Listeners seeking more from these players can check out other projects whose lives they have touched, including Tsjinlud, Piiptsjilling, The Alvaret Ensemble, and the ambient fellow Andrew Heath. From 19th March 2019.