Team Metlay... those two words inspire laughter, or a shake of the head. The first of the great Internet electronic superbands, launched at the dawn of the Net era, before the World Wide Web, before most people even had computers in their homes, it gathered musicians from around the world and brought them together in one place to create music of power, madness, and majesty.
Every two years, the Team would reunite, putting human faces on the sterile dealings of the Net, gathering in a studio and writing, playing, mixing, and completing an entire album in one or two marathon sessions. In 1990 it was Bandwidth. From 1992 and 1994 came the megalithic double album Ballistic.
And then... silence.
Word filtered out onto the Internet about something that happened in 1996. A session gone wrong. Fights. Death threats. The band broken up, with members fighting over precious tapes of the last few days in the studio before things went to Hell. Then more silence. Then a flurry of activity in 1998, word of a reunion concert, a possible rebirth of the band in a live setting... and then, more silence.
Seven years since it was begun, the last Team Metlay album is here, and it's been well worth the wait. Beneath Stars is a CD in two wonderfully-matched parts: the first half, Badlands, is a careful compositing of tracks from the 1996-1997 sessions rescued from the dumpster, remastered and stripped of years of noise and crud, and the second half, Beneath Electric Stars, is an edit of the Team's farewell concert in January of 1999 at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, Colorado.
Critics call it the best work the Team's ever done, an absolutely essential conclusion to the decade-long love/hate story that was Team Metlay. If you have any interest in the history of electronic music, if you love chilled ambient spacescapes with a hint of insanity bubbling below the surface, if you want to hear how the story came out... you must come with the Team and have a seat Beneath Stars.