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Terryfirma LP by Terry Ohms


Those in search of a record that pushes the envelope in every sense, from the ambitiousness of its production to the very structure of its instrumental sophistication, needn’t look any further this January than Terryfirma, the new album by Terry Ohms out this month via Cornelius Chapel Records. Terry Ohms, for those who aren’t already familiar with his impressive discography and string of powerful releases stretching well beyond a decade ago, has built his reputation by trying things that other artists – for whatever ramshackle reason – simply aren’t willing, or capable of accomplishing inside the studio. With Terryfirma, Ohms abandons any sense of continuity between the songs that make up a track listing and instead chases after tonality at its most pure and raw form. He meets his goal and ironically ends up creating a record that is more cohesive and progressively stylized than anything he’s cultivated before, in or out of the studio. Terryfirma is rock music that legitimately has no limits, but surprisingly has an excessive amount of swing almost sure to get you dancing.

What do you get when you mix guitar brutality, rhythms steeped in minimalism and rebellious but nevertheless intellectually-stimulating lyrics? You get something along the lines of “Opportunity,” “Peaks and Valleys,” “Doubtin It” and “Those Eyes,” all of which work off of a formula that essentially calls for each of these ingredients in varying dosages.Terryfirma is an album that centers on merging conflicting concepts, amplifying whatever discord they yield, and finding a way to attach an agile beat to the sonic remains. In some songs, such as “Remember How to Live” or “Bring All to Front,” the harsher side of the tonality circumvents the melodicism within the singing, while in other situations like “Doubtin It” and “Mind Blow,” we become so magnetized by the engrossing rhythm that focusing on anything other than our undying desire to shake is relatively impossible.


On this front, Terryfirma is without question the most joyfully fractured and willfully strange LP I’ve heard in quite some time, despite the fact that in the same breath I could describe it as the most fluidly arranged piece I’ve reviewed in at least a year’s time. For as many stylistic contradictions as Terry Ohms’ new album is riddled with – stoic electronica in “We Love You,” radiant hooks in the style of The The in “Little Bit,” passive lyrical stitching in “Remember How to Live,” restrained punk rock in “Mind Blow” – it still manages to somehow leave anyone who presses play haunted by its visceral harmonies, that seem to stretch beyond the reach of what pop music is typically capable of dishing out.

Within all nine tracks we find a piece of Ohms’ identity waiting to be connected with the ones beside it, and though this is unquestionably his most intricately designed and complete work released to us so far, it’s also his most tangibly physical and accessible (which really says something when you consider its general shapelessness). Avant-garde buffs and rock fans alike will want to make a point of listening to this album as soon as they can if they know what’s good for them.


Mindy McCall



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