Review: T.E.F. – Framework (Dada Drumming, Mar 19)

What did I do to deserve two of the most important American harsh noise acts releasing new music on the same day? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Here’s to being a spoiled little bastard with a hefty supply of eardrum punishment.

Houston-based artist Kevin Novak has been releasing recordings as T.E.F. since the late 90’s, and even his earliest recordings, like Tokyo Eternal Folly, display a truly distinct understanding of the harsh noise medium. With Novak, it’s always been quality over quantity, a mantra attested to by his relatively small body of work—compared to many noise artists’ notorious prolificacy—and the stunning heights reached on genre-defining achievements such as Symptomatic Harbinger and Consequences in Conversation. The latter was Novak’s last full-length album as T.E.F., and nearly a decade later its formidable dynamics and cut-up spastics are rivaled by Framework, also on Dada Drumming. This new CD absolutely seethes with restless aggression, its deafening collages of breakneck sample mishmosh, squalling feedback, and god knows what other distortion-smothered sound sources tearing through brief respites with a vengeance. The trademark density that makes T.E.F. releases so replayable is in full force here; though repeated listens won’t make it any quieter, you’ll constantly be picking up on new things, and the overall chunkiness gives Novak’s noise an unmatched set of teeth.

Framework can be ordered directly from the label, and is available digitally on most streaming platforms.

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