REVIEW: THE TOTEMIST – “2880” [EP]
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
This is a fantastic quote from American Painter Chuck Close and I feel it embodies the spirit of the UK duo The Totemist, made up of Guitarist Rabea Massaad of Toska and Drummer Liam Kearley of Black Peaks.
The Totemist EP 2880 is a 12-minute long musical expression that was written in two days and recorded in one at Brighton Electric Studios which took advantage of free time between the pair of musicians to create some spur of the moment Progressive Rock tracks.
On the whole, it’s highly reminiscent of Toska with Massaad’s signature theatrical playing style purveys throughout mixed in with some experimental elements not usually found in his playing. Backed up by Kearley’s powerful grooves and fluence of the kit as more than just a rhythm-keeping device serves to add an incredible amount of agility to the music overall. A fantastic example of this interplay is at the beginning of the track “Roast Host” sees a polyrhythmic timing of 6/8 16th notes on the floor tom with triplets on the hat over the top of a descending chordal arrangement on guitar, the result of which ends up sounding like the avalanching of reckless abandon that tumbles into a crescendo of crashing vortexes of guitar and drums before landing into a groove of legato guitar licks and metering that seems to musically elaborate on the metaphorical point of what’s being expressed at every measure. It’s chaotic yet, measured. This is just the start of the song too!
If none of this makes any sense, then the TLDR is the music moves around you while you’re firmly planted in paralysis.
An impressive technical aspect of the production is the quality of the recording. Massaad is very well known for his Youtube videos and tones he gets in Toska but not only are these qualities present in this production but the mixing was also done by him as well!
This project may have been a fast-paced flash in the pan expression of creativity but the speed and precision at which it’s executed is nothing short of amazing.
In fact, the only critiques I can offer are; It’s far too short and I would have LOVED to have heard vocals over it however to realistically expect any more in such a rapid context of production would be folly.
On that note, they released a performance video of all three tracks in a simple minimalistic format that manages to be engaging so the value proposition for a potential listener is ridiculously high here.
I for one would be extremely interested to see if anything further might develop with The Totemist, If this is what they’re able to push out over the space of a long weekend in total then the possibilities are astronomical.