Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Triptet - Imaginary Perspective (Engine Studios, 2011)

New York based label Engine Recordings specializes in free jazz and free improv records. They are the ones responsible for the ultra-energetic gem Ba by the Washington trio Matta Gawa. Imaginary Perspective, the newest offering by the Seattle ensemble Triptet is much more restrained, but at the same time much more atmospheric and evocative.
            Released in an eco-friendly cardboard digipak-imitation sleeve, the CD is pleasing to the eye with its simple, yet effective design (I don’t know if the upside-down text on the insert was planned or was it just a printing mistake). The 9 tracks on the disc range from nearly 4 to nearly 9 minutes, so we get quite some time for listening. The first track, “Autumn Sonar” sets the mood, which will permeat all the tracks for the rest of the album. A sort of chilling, almost cold, droning ambience with an improv twist with quiet, restrained freestyle drumming. Triptet create seemingly unfriendly, unwelcoming environments with a series of sparse, seemingly unplanned, yet carefully arranged soundscapes. The droning, monotonous saxophone parts are combined with almost industrial, distant electronics and slowly unfolding drums, following countless variations of a given basic rhythm.
The sound of Triptet echoes that of the less blown-out, more ambient-based Supersilent without ever delving into the maniacal maelstroms the Norwegians so love to create. The dark style of Tripet reaches its peak with “Echolocation Song”, where funeral brass band mourns over a distant, bell-like drumming?electronics? No one really knows. The tracks on the album often feel like a ritual ceremony gone wrong or missing an essential participant or element – always reaching a certain level of intensity without ever going really intense.

Stream the entire album and buy the CD version or the digital version on Triptet's Bandcamp page.

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