Catalog #: AHE-18
Format: 12" Vinyl EP/Digital
Release date: 2012
1. All Over You
2. My Ocean
4. Love Is Not Enough
5. Cold Void Jiggle
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AHE-18 TEST HOUSE – Bitemarks – 12″ EP: $12
Bitemarks is the debut EP by NYC’s Test House, a band that got its start when Peter Schuette (Silk Fowers, Psychobuidlings, Peter’s House Music) and James Elliott (Bear in Heaven, School of Seven Bells) began combining the groove oriented work of their respective solo recordings to formalize a new pop oriented sound. Synthesizing elements from a vast array of dance music including Detroit Techno and classic House, with the ambient textures of German synth composers, and Italian horror soundtracks, Test House bring their many disparate influences under one roof, tying them together in a compelling pop song structure. The tracks on their first cassette-release on CF Records was largely comprised of instrumentals, but with the release of Bitemarks, the group has honed in on their songwriting craft and have incorporated Peter Schuette’s smooth vocals on three of the six tracks. The songs “Love Is Not Enough” and “My Ocean” merges the work of 80’s “new-romantic” bands like the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode, with the modern electro-pop smarts of bands like Junior Boys. Though taking cues from well known acts, Test House are still able to throw a few wrenches in the system, creating a their own unique approach to pop. The song “Island” balances spy movie guitars with angular synth lines and a vocal morphing effect that’s as hypnotic as it is unsettling. The song breaks down into a frenetic dub with the beat slowing down and speeding up like a malfunctioning tape reel. While Test House are keen to take chances with the sounds they choose, they also know when to bring the house down. The title track “Bitemarks” is the strongest example of this, opening with a dark bass synth and a jumpy lead line that bubbles over the top. By the time the bass kicks in it’s clear that the tune has all the transportive qualities of the best club music. The EP’s six songs compliment each other so well that it’s almost hard to tell when one track ends and the next begins, sounding like a playlist that only the most inventive DJ could dream up. Bitemarks is an exercise in pure flow: complex yet simple, moody yet ecstatic.
-12″ EP comes with download card.
“the duo is pure in its intentions, and draws from most of the faultless electronic moments of the past thirty years: early techno, wordless melodies, komische synth pads and the 4/4 flow are all too ultra-smooth to get caught up in jock-jammed club bang-ups.”
-Jeremy Krinsley (Impose)
“Damn, it’s like it’s the 1980s again, and everyone’s invited!”. Test House pull all the levers on the time machine. Liquid beats, pan-flute synths, “rhythmatronics” (a.k.a. tightly wound, robotic bass rhythms), and the sort of vocals that, if they were being subtitled, would glow florescent. Very fluid arrangements, too; there’s a certain urgency about these guys. They mean it, and that always means something. Bitemarks is about as engrossing as post-coldwave colorwheels get, especially “Cold Void Jiggle” and its lumps of playdough synths that, true to their title, wiggle like jelly. I like squishing them between my ear-fingers. Seek and crank.
-Grant Purdum (Tiny Mix Tapes)
Further mid-‘80s sounding synth/pop/house hybrids from Peter Schuette (Silk Flowers, Psychobuildings), along with James Elliott, who co-wrote these six songs with Schuette. Much like most of Silk Flowers’ work, this isn’t an easy record to categorize, the material working from a somewhat house-oriented blueprint of racing rhythms, then given melodies that work, but are a bit outside the expected simplicity (the Eastern electro tinge to the title track being a prime example). Think New Order records with a lot more play around the ideas, and evasiveness as one of the music’s primary tenets. Fine stuff.
-Doug Mosurock (Still Single/Dusted Magazine)
Despite Test House’s surface level affinity for goth-tinged New Wave, the NY duo seem intent on avoiding a lot of trappings that can make darkwave such a drag. While using a well-worn template of melodic synth-driven dance pop, Test House’s debut Bitemarks often opts to revisit a less-travelled path through 80s nostalgia.
Much of the EP explores an era of synth pop emerging from the darkness, an interesting crossroads where the gloom began to give way to a sense of light self-awareness and whimsy, more akin to Pet Shop Boys rather than Depeche Mode. Sonically, Bitemarks stays true to their influences using a similar palette of cosmic synthwork but it also leans on the linear structures and rhythmic pulse of Chicago House, early Techno, and 80s R&B to provide structure and motion.
-Tim Jones (Impose)