Trapist - Ballroom
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Trapist
Ballroom

Trapist are a trio of musicians based in Vienna who play largely improvised music that seems to revel as much in the notes that aren't played as the ones that are. Although they are a young bunch, their combined list of collaborations include a wide variety of artists such as Fennesz, Evan Parker, Ken Vandermark, and a load of others. Percussionist Martin Brandlmayr also plays in the trio Radian, who released their excellent little Rec.Extern on Thrill Jockey just a couple years back.

Trapist is a whole new bag from that group, though. Naming themselves after a fraternity whose devotion is demonstrated by silence, the focus of the group definitely isn't about grooving or rocking out (although they do both on rare occasion). It's the getting to those points where the group mainly keeps things, and they do so using both traditional instrumentation like drums, bass, and guitar, but also through a host of digital effects. On part 1 of the opening track "Time Axis Manipulation," cymbal hits ring out impossibly long, dissolving into insect chatter while sparse guitars and layers of electronics strum and hum respectively. It sounds like a jazz band slogging it's way through a tub of molasses, only managing to free itself for brief moments before dropping off again. Part 2 (which is also the second track on the disc) finds the trio locking into step as crisp drumming snaps in step with a twanging bass and ringing electronics before the whole thing stutters and dissolves into a white haze of noise.

"Observations Took Place" keeps things chugging along pretty well as another thick bassline rumbles along while flickering electronics and punctuating drums provide a backdrop before things again dissolve into analogue buzz. The best track on the album arrives as "The Meaning Of Flowers," however, as the entire opening of the track sounds like it's being played inside an aquarium before things clear and there's some beautiful interplay between desolate pedal steel and squiggling electronics over a jazzy rhythm section.

The closer of "For All The Time Spent In This Room" is the epic of the album (at 18-minutes), but it's also one of the most interesting. With much better dynamics than the opening track of the disc, it moves along sparsely, dropping in and out instruments and sounds while building up into a synth-heavy crescendo before dropping off into a completely deconstructed finale that boils everything down to a primordial flicker. As with nearly all improvised recordings, there are moments where things aren't completely working, but they're mostly offset on this release with some outstanding moments that make up for any downtime.

rating: 7.7510
Aaron Coleman 2004-02-12 00:00:00