Although members of Kooba Tercu partly come from London, the band is mainly seen as a collective that hails from Greece. Kooba Tercu sprouted from the mind of the Athens-based Johnny Tercu a decade ago. In a way he created a sanctuary for musicians who are busy with other music endeavors but every now and then come together in Kooba Tercu to jam together various forms of kraut, stoner, African rhythms, noise and psych. These jams are fueled by the difficult Greek social-economic issues and thus are known for their viciousness but also hold hope for the future.
On their third record, Proto Tekno, the band looks to the future by addressing the struggles between culture and nature, underdevelopment and technology, opposition and connectedness. This philosophical approach is nicely visualized on the album cover. Still for us it’s mainly the music that counts so let’s check what Proto Tekno’s 8 tracks sonically has to offer.
Well, after an initial spin it turns out Kooba Tercu has a lot to offer. Proto Tekno is a harsh, versatile and fresh listen that starts off with some explosive noise rock that gets you pumping for the rest of the album. On Benzoberry raw vocals and fuzzy guitars kick in while drums crash and a repetitive punk baseline keeps pounding through. The pace is slowed down on the heavy off-keyed Cemento Mori. On this slow burn we feel like we’re lost in the woods at night while a wounded beast hunts us down. The uncomfortable feeling is suddenly converted into a percussion based instrumental. It takes Filter Feeder about a minute to find a groove but when it does Johnny Tercu and his crew get your head nodding in no time. When we progress to Qasan we notice that Filter Feeder is a light intermezzo between two dark tracks. On Qasan the percussion becomes heavier, more tribal. The heavy stomping together with the paganistic chanting reminds of some passages we heard on Swans’ 2019 leaving meaning. After the band almost brings Qasan to a full stop, a short but intense wall of noise is pulled up the warp up the track. Although this ending comes as no surprise Qasan is truly a top level track on which Kooba Tercu show off their skills to the fullest.
Four down, four to go. Kamehameha’s noisy beginnings distract a bit from where we left off at Qasan. Soon the song however changes into a new tension builder. Do we hear a whiff of Sonic Youth echoing through here? Well anyway, we again get a feeling a beast of some kind is hunting us, only this time the beast shows itself as Tercu suddenly screams: “Hypersheep!”. After this a short story unfolds about sheep who at night time start eating land around us humans, coming closer to us on each bite. Let’s hope landeating hypersheep will never be a real thing in the near future huh… For us the best track on the album is Fair Game which in the core is a delightful mix of propelling syths and obstinate percussion. Rising distortion levels eventually cut off the flow but hen is directly followed up by the hypnotic minimalistic techno of Boiler.
Kooba Tercu is king in building wonderful decors of sounds which they can approach from very different spectrums like noise, prog and even techno. Also they master the timing into changing these decors. Especially on the last part of the album the style of the tracks don’t fit together but the intrepid timing of the chance between the tracks still keeps the whole together. This also is the case when Boiler is blown out like a candle and Puppy Pile starts up. For a finale we would expect a more explosive track, yet the band keeps things small here. Puppy Pile sounds like an indie rock coming from dEUS but never breaks loose. Although the ending of the album slightly disappoints we do appreciate the artistic highground the band stands on here. It’s like they are telling us that Proto Tekno is not only about pleasuring us, but also is about making us think for ourselves.
Proto Tekno is a great album that feels like a chaotic listen but is produced with careful consideration. The blend of noise and infectious rhythmic drives and all that lies in between is executed flawlessly. And as you probably guessed, a review like this can only mean we highly recommend checking this one out. You won’t be disappointed.
Label: Rocket Recordings, 2020
- Benzoberry (3:50)
- Cemento Mori (5:29)
- Filter Feeder (3:44)
- Qasan (7:26)
- Kamehameha (4:16)
- Fair Game (3:42)
- Boiler (6:42)
- Puppy Pile (4:40)
Review by Wander Meulemans // 190920