Tensheds is the brainchild of keyboard wizard Matt Millership, a multi-instrumentalist who tinkles the ivories full time for Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind and Beans On Toast. While in these bands Matt is more of a hired hand, Tensheds is completely his baby, and with long time drummer Ed Wells, he has been exploring unique ways to bring piano music crashing into the 21st Century for well on 10 years now.
The pair recently retreated to Free House Studios in Wales and tracked their 4th album ‘Deathrow Disco’ in 3 days. Taking a minimalistic approach, it was recorded completely with a Rhodes organ and drums, with just the occasional tinkle from his beloved 1835 Collard & Collard grand piano. No guitars, bass, synths or ulterior motives were used in the making of this album.
‘Deathrow Disco’ is not your average piano based record, that’s for sure. This is a hard hitting, gritty alternative beast full of heavy beats and gravelly vocals. If you dig a bit of James Leg (which we certainly do at RPM) then you will most likely enjoy ‘Deathrow Disco’. There are many parallels; the pair both follow the same 2 piece band format of Rhodes organ and drums. But while James Leg has a more swampy blues approach, Tensheds are more, dare I say…gothic noir. Imagine Tom Waits on crack, downing whiskey and jamming out Donna Summer records all night long and you might get some idea where Tensheds are coming from with ‘Deathrow Disco’.
Thumping beats pump through the stereo on opener ‘Youngbloods’ before Matt’s gritty vocals take over, sounding like a man on 40 a day. ‘Gold Tooth’ has a signature Rhodes refrain and musically goes off on a tangent to itself. It’s fast, fuzzy and its dare I say…dancy!
Tensheds create dark imagery as Matt weaves sonically seductive effect-ridden Rhodes runs all over gothic, Tim Burton-esque soundscapes. But this isn’t a Danny Elfman style soundtrack, oh no. Well, maybe if you kidnapped the songwriter, scrubbed his vocal chords with sandpaper, soaked the open wounds in cheap whiskey and packed him off to an Amsterdam whorehouse for a dirty weekend, it would be!
‘Slag’ takes the fuzz to another level as Matt growls about the rich and the poor, the music builds in intensity, as piano runs and stabbing chords fight for supremacy. A three and a half minute deathrock opera. ‘Black Blood’ is upbeat and funky, yet dark and foreboding, a schizophrenic musical delight, and ‘Secrets’ is a seductive murder ballad that will haunt your very soul.
Let’s get one thing straight ‘Deathrow Disco’ is not a party album, well not any party I have ever attended anyway! It’s a dark and emotional rollercoaster ride through the deep recesses of the songwriters mind, exploring the themes of incarceration, whether that be metaphorical or physical. He suggests there is no freedom from love, loss, politics or the destruction of our planet. The lyrics are topical and the music is simply fascinating.
Buy Deathrow Disco Here
Author: Ben Hughes