TET | Code Ultimate Control (review)

 

TET 'Code Ultimate Control' cover artwork

TET ‘Code Ultimate Control’ cover artwork.

TET (Travailleur En Trance) is an EBM project from Hamburg, Germany consisting primarily of just one member, CS/TET, who has been quietly producing music since 1993 with live support from RI/TET. After a string of cassette releases the project went on hiatus in 1996, like so many other bands of the era, due to collapsing interest in EBM/industrial. TET re-surfaced in 2005, when interest in EBM and similar genres returned, and has been active since.

Code Ultimate Control is an ambitious collection, essentially three albums in one. The collection was initially intended to be just one new album, the first disc of this collection Controlling The Night Skies. The release ballooned in scope when TET decided that he needed to re-work older material for use in live shows. This resulted in Disc 2, Cobra Coded Maximum Escalation 3000, and Disc 3, Ultima Ratio Final Intervention 3000. These second and third discs include re-worked and re-recorded material from the 2000-era albums Cobra Coded Escalation (2008) and Ultima Ratio Intervention (2005), along with additional tracks culled from the band’s cassette years. Also interspersed is new material that did not fit on Disc 1.

‘Code Ultimate Control’ thus presents a snap-shot of TET’s current musical direction but also serves as a carefully curated introduction to the band’s earlier output. TET describe themselves as neo-EBM, retro-EBM or future-EBM and those descriptions are all apt. If I had to describe Disc 1, Controlling The Night Skies, I’d be inclined to say the sound is reminiscent of vintage Front 242 and Front Line Assembly mixed with the symphonic leanings of Clock DVA.

I found an interview in Dark Entries to be particularly revealing. In the interview, CS/TET explains that when the project first started EBM had already branched out to include a wide and fascinating set of influences. Today, when people refer to so-called ‘anhalt EBM’ it should be noted that that minimalist, bare-bones sound really only applied to a handful of bands in the early years of the genre. CS/TET rightfully points out that Front 242, considered the “godfathers of EBM” did not release a single track in the so-called “old school” or “anhalt” style.

Of course, there’s no denying EBM is a retro style as a whole today. But if you still feel close to that golden era, why not look at the complete, fascinating range that EBM used to have? From combat style to rock ‘n roll influences, from ice-cold atmospheres to cowboy hats, from cyborg biomechanics to horror themes – you name it.

Moving on to Disc 2 Cobra Coded Maximum Escalation 3000, largely collecting material from 2008, the sound is similar to the band’s most recent material, but with fewer symphonic elements and more hard driving. Here we also see collaborations with Claus Kruse of legendary act Plastic Noise Experience, along with a remix from Vomito Negro. Finally, Disc 3 Ultima Ratio Final Intervention 3000 goes back even further to the year 2005 and the earlier tape releases from 1993-95. Disc 3 also features a remix/collaboration with veteran Belgian project NTRSN.

Throughout all three discs there is a remarkable consistency of quality. Featuring a mixture of analog and digital elements, and the band’s clear emphasis on sound design and high production values, this set really shines. There’s something here for all EBM fans, whether you enjoy an old school aesthetic or a more modern production. I’d say the overall sound of this release may appeal most to fans of the Hard Wired era of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY, a cold EBM sound but experimenting with production techniques and influences from other genres. Also, lyrically FLA is probably a good comparison, as TET’s themes seem to cover some of the same ground, e.g. war and conflict and an apprehension about technology and its influences.

If you’d like to preview tracks from Code Ultimate Control one of the best sources is YouTube. There are videos available for ‘The Flying Fortress’ and ‘Kampfmaschinen’, among others.

Finally, for those who want to hear the band’s original demo tapes in their analog glory, with any imperfections intact, they are now available to purchase on bandcamp; see Rewind Volume 1 [Original Tapes 1993-94] and Rewind Volume 2 [Original Tapes 1993-94].

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