Thee More Shallows

Since picking up the violin at age 4, songwriter Dee Kesler has spent 99 percent of his life dreaming up songs. There were brief detours, notably a high-school devotion to pectoral form and tanning, and errors in judgment, like the period spent emulating Yngwie Malmsteen. But through it all, Dee has been a man obsessed with sound. If you meet him and he seems distant, even a little simple-minded, it's only because you're talking to the 1 percent currently unoccupied. Drummers/multi-instrumentalists Chavo Fraser and Jason Gonzales are no less dedicated. Every morning before Chavo's first cup of coffee, he sits with a block of wood and taps away on it until his mind is good and blank. And Jason spends every night, all night, in front of a computer, scanning AM talk radio for samples to freeze and manipulate.

TMS met in 2001 at a concert where all three were playing with other bands.Finding their fixations compatible, the trio convened in a basement practice space in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, and along with Tadas Kisielius, made 2002's A History of Sport Fishing. Composed and artisted entirely during a two-week period between the hours of midnight and 9 a.m., the band took an interest in long-format, classically-influenced music (Debussy and Mussorgsky, slow-core, dub, Krautrock, house) and developed it into something immersive, more like a film than a collection of songs, yet still bound to pop structure and lyrical form. After tours of the US and UK, they built a studio in West Oakland, and began work on their second artist. Though they started with a simple-enough list of songs, the process of artisting them, revising them, adding to them, and tweaking them again, eventually took two grueling years. The result, 2005's More Deep Cuts, is a world in and of itself. Bursting with huge atmospherics and the tiniest details, it takes almost as much time to fully absorb as it did to make it.

In 2007, the respective mythologies of Thee More Shallows and Anticon come together. A mutual love of one another's oeuvres was realized when Dee discovered that the neatly dressed man living behind his house was Anticon's very own Odd Nosdam. After numerous collaborations, including a remix by Odd Nosdam (with Why?) on TMS's Monkey vs. Shark EP, string arrangements by Dee on Odd's remix for Boards of Canada, and contributions to both Nosdam's Burner and Why?'s Elephant Eyelash, talk of a TMS release on Anticon came naturally.

On Book of Bad Breaks, instead of slow-core, Dee's storytelling is this time set to a backdrop of Wire's 154 and early Bowie. Huge sound scapes and minute details still flesh out the sound, but they're animated on a bounding skeleton of double-time drumming and razor thin drones. And thanks to the one-track minds of TMS, the results are spectacular.