The Golden Years
Staubgold Digital 19

Although no one would ever confuse the improvisations on this CD with ecclesiastical plainsong, the fact that this Canadian/German/Austrian trio’s name suggests the Trappist order, implies the deferential skill it brings to the music. Not only do the three players cunningly negotiating the boundaries between jazz improvisation, rock beats and electronic interface, but like monks in that order which discourage speech, this compelling program includes as many lucid and protracted pauses as measured instrumental timbres.

Over the course of four mesmerizing tracks, Vancouver-born bassist Joe Williamson’s steadying thumps are advanced with the same sort of electronic delays and modulations as German-born guitarist Martin Siewert brings to his slurred fingering, which is already distorted and processed. Plus the inventive slaps, flams and drags from Austrian percussionist Martin Brandlmayr are only as pronounced as needed to keep the program balanced. Ambidextrous or overdubbed, he expands the basic tripartite sound generation with piano riffs or vibraphone reverb when needed.

Filtering out extraneous timbres throughout, Trapist reaches a climax of sorts on The Spoke and the Horse when perfectly timed twanging guitar licks, a juddering bass line and emphasized drum rolls blend with the crackling and grinding voltage undercurrent for a satisfying rhythmic exposition. Meanwhile, bass and drums harmony is expanded with sensitive vibe coloration and dense, signal-processed buzzing. Finally, after folksy guitar strums and metronomic bass stops are paired with processed sequences that could be telephone dial tones or aviary twitters, the final track incorporates the intimation of waves lapping against the seashore. A similar resonance was heard on the first track, bringing the program full circle.

Additionally this CD confirms how wide a sonic spectrum can result when electronics are put in the service of intelligent intermingling of a minimum of instrumental textures.

—Ken Waxman

— For Whole Note Vol. 18 #4