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Tala Vala – Modern Hysteria Review

A truly unique fusion of music.

Sounds like…

Nothing you’ve quite heard before.

The review

Experimental music covers a multitude of sins and Tala Vala do that too. Mixing together brass, strings, guitars, vocal samples, drums and weird percussion, Tala Vala sits at a crossroads of trip-hop, jazz and deconstructed electronica. It is difficult to pigeon hole the London based duo as they work purposely with niche genres of music to blend them together. Their results usually fall somewhere around the above with a psychedelia tilt though.

‘Modern Hysteria’ took several years to put together and the sound palette is vast and strange. The title track is a cinematic mix of heavy rock drums, razor-sharp guitars, bassy piano rumbles and seaside organs. That is in the first minute alone before the brass arrangements burst in and the track borrows from curious lounge jazz motifs. It is such a weird but satisfying mix of instruments that the tracks title suits it well. Tala Vala place genres and instruments together in a style you just don’t hear very often.

This rings true throughout the album. Opener ‘Angel Organ’ is like a plugged Caribou but denser. ‘Beach Tranquilizer’ takes lazy day summer guitars and plays it alongside desolate detective noir drums and trumpets. Yes, you are chilling… but you are also watching it in a black and white 1920’s period flick too. ‘Reoccuring Weather’ takes a dissonant piano and double bass and weaves an African kora pattern around the moody jazz section. I don’t think I’ve heard that combination before in my life. It is this surprising merge that works so well and when the emotive string arrangement joins in, it is surprisingly effective no matter how unusual adding a synth accordion sounds. Tala Vala are unique.

Tala Vala

‘Exit Strategies’ is one of the most standard tracks on the album – a moody symphonic jazz ensemble that you could almost hear Portico Quartet perhaps tackling. It doesn’t stay that way for long. ‘Hexen’ has more in common with a music and movement film Noire soundtrack. As the brass tendrils wrap around brushed and breathy percussion, the track ends up submerging itself underground like a termite and all the drums echo out woolly and hollow. This allows the album to take a quieter turn with the sad ballad ‘Orbits’. Here piano and strings led the way in a thoughtful but pensive piece. Where the instruments stay familiar, here the chords are purposefully maddening and eerie. There is a great sense of wonder across the whole track even though it is the most delicate piece on the album.

The album closes with a ten-minute finale. ‘See The Moon Shine’ wraps up everything you’ve heard on the album into a cinematic odyssey. From the lush strings, the psychedelic organs and worldly percussion through to the thick synths and brooding guitars – its all here. Whilst it isn’t the most immediate track on the album, its certainly the one post-rockers will flock to.

I don’t think I’ve heard anything quite like Tala Vala. They seem to move through not just genre but time periods too. Fusing jazz, rock, weird electronica and classical elements together, it is like they’ve created a new genre. I declare it post-fusion. It is now a thing. If you want your music to be surprising – Tala Vala is just for you.

Recommended track: Reoccurring Weather

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Tala Vala - Modern Hysteria



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