Teton is the brain-child of Elizabeth Lovell and Sam Klickner, both raised in small, rural towns in Southern Illinois. Klickner, a music school drop-out, primarily self-taught performer and improviser, has recorded four records as the drummer of Chicago’s Wei Zhongle, while Lovell, a classically-trained pianist, fronted various outfits in the midwestern DIY universe, eventually cutting her teeth in composition while working on a research facility in Antarctica. Soon after their romantic collision, the duo relocated to Portland, Oregon to join bassist and fellow, former-Illinoisan Jef Hill. Following a year of intense rehearsals, the band recorded their debut with long-time friend and collaborator David Allen (of International Anthem) and began touring the West Coast.
The band’s debut, Candy Spelling, is a six song collection of contrapuntal art-pop that synthesizes the disparate traditions of 80’s icons like Kate Bush and Prefab Sprout with the dualistic prog of bands such as Magma and Henry Cow, while taking notes from medieval music and contemporary chamber music. Across lyrical themes of companionship, labor, birth, and the manifestation of intent, Teton delivers a specific sort of abstraction; one which is physically embodied in the album’s artwork (designed by Klickner), with it’s surrealist figurative and architectural forms, painted in dark gradients of burgundies and purples.
Candy Spelling is a flowing Dalinian songscape, salted with intertwining melodicism that is rarely found in a power trio. Throughout, it's hard to believe that the sounds are being made live by only three people, as the music delivers five musical voices. Lovell delivers vocal lines polyrhythmically against her own quilted, double synth accompaniment. Klickner and Hill provide an erected, powerful back bone — a detailed trellis of rhythm and counter melodies. Of course, there are momentary guest features on the album from Portland luminary Andrew Auble and Wei Zhongle clarinetist John McCowen.
Teton’s intensely personal sound is perhaps partly the result of the couple’s lifestyle as artist polymaths: Lovell is a clothing and fiber artist; Klickner, a filmmaker and visual artist. Their combined aesthetic across forms is uncanny, dreamlike, and mystifying, with rich dichotomies at play. The songs are both masculine and feminine; delicate and aggressive; welcoming and merciless. Within these 25 minutes of music resides a fantasy world, sustained on dream-logic and chaotic symbolism. Teton embodies their mountainous namesake —a bold and towering ecosystem of taught, woven voices charged with an emotional richness found only in the intimacy of lovers.
"Bursting into life with all the simmering tension of a late-night '80s chase scene... a unique enrapturing sound."
"... three minutes in off-kilter synth pop heaven... gloomily danceable, like it would be at home on the soundtrack of a Sixteen Candles reboot directed by David Lynch."