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The Trio

Incantation: Dawn Recordings 1970-1971

Review by Gary Hill

This new double CD set is a compilation of music from two different albums released by the outfit The Trio between 1970 and 1971. These guys are probably more fusion than anything else, but they really have a lot in common with the Rock In Opposition movement. The core band of John Surman, Barre Phillips and Stu Martin are responsible for everything on the first album. They had a number of guests on the second set including Chic Corea and Dave Holland (the bass player, not the drummer). This has a tendency toward freeform and weird, but it's also cool instrumental music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One
       
Taken from the Album "The Trio"
       
Oh Dear

Percussion brings this in and holds it for the first minute or so. Then horns join and we're out into a cool jazz exploration from there. This gets pretty intense and powerful. There is a real freeform fusion groove to the cut.

Dousing Rod
I dig the horn section at the beginning of this quite a bit. This is perhaps a bit less intense, but it's no less interesting. If anything it seems more experimental. The arrangement here is less dense, but that really allows the unusual lines of the various instruments to be heard better. This lands very much in the vein of the Rock In Opposition type of music.
Silver Cloud
Here we have some more cool experimental fusion. This has a nice groove to it, allowing plenty of space for exploration while holding things together nicely.
Incantation

Strictly a horn piece, this is shorter than some of the rest. It's a tasty jam and seems to segue into the next number.

Caractacus
With a very busy drum part, this is a powerhouse, but seriously strange, jam that seems like a continuation of the last piece.
Let's Stand
Mellower, but no less strange, this is dark and moves very slowly. It gets louder further down the road, though.
Foyer Hall
This powerhouse jam is fast paced and a bit more mainstream jazz oriented. It's a killer. It gets quite crazed as it carries forward.
Porte Des Lilas
Bass brings this into being with drums joining. The cut has a good dynamic range, working through louder and quieter sections. There are parts of this that make me think of the jazzy side of King Crimson.
Veritably
A fast paced jam, this is a real powerhouse. It's not as strange as some of others and really has some killer stuff built into it. Everyone gets the chance to show off a bit, and I definitely love the rhythm section showcase later.
In Between
Freaky, trippy musical textures are on hand here. This has a lot of classical music built into it. It is on the quieter side, but there is some intense jamming as it gets more jazz oriented.
6's and 7's
This one is a bit on the noisy side and has a lot energy to the groove it's built upon. It's suitably freeform and a bit weird. There are some odd non-lyrical vocals here, too. This thing gets pretty crazed before it's over.
Green Walnut
I love the bass line that opens this cut. The track builds out from there to one of the more mainstream jazz rock styled pieces here. There is some powerhouse jamming built into this thing. This thing is over 11 minutes of music and they make good use of that extra space.
CD Two
   
Taken from the Album "The Trio"
   
Billie the Kid
There is so much trippy weirdness built into this thing. It has lots of odd layers of sound including some weird voices that seem like distant chanting. This just a tiny bit more than a minute and a half long and provides some real variety.
Dee Tune
Starting with horns, other instruments join after a time and we're out into another powerhouse fusion jam from there. It gets into some strange, but really inspired territory as it continues.
Centering
This is a mellower, trippy exploration. I love the bass work on this, but everything is pretty darned cool.
Joachim
Another jam that's on the more sedate side of the equation, bass starts this, and then the drums join. It wanders forward from there. The bass is really an essential part of this cut, but the horn manages to shine, too. There are some opportunities for the drums to really get out in front, as well.
Drum
The drums keep starting and stopping, leaving silence behind. The duration of playing changes each time, though. As you might guess by the title, this is a drum solo.
Taken from the Album "Conflagration"
         
Conflagration

Piano starts this number. A more full group treatment rises upward and holds it for a time, but then it drops down to just percussion to continue. The horn rises up to join as this works forward. It's freeform and a bit strange, but also cool. As the freeform stuff continues we get a return of the piano and bass for a freaky workout.

Malachite
Another that comes in mellow and freeform, piano is again a big part of it. A more full jazz band arrangement emerges after a time and this really starts to grow. Although still quite weird and freeform, this really gets into some powerful territory. Around the six minute mark it makes its way out to a more mainstream jazz jam to continue. After that movement there is a bit of a drum solo that takes over for the rest of the piece.
Nuts
Drums start this, making it feel like an extension of the last number. The horn rises up as this jam continues. It gets into some killer freeform frantic jazz territory as it continues. It drops way down then for some weird bass stuff as this cut evolves. It begins to grow upward with some weird piano and killer drumming being featured.
6's and 7's
They turn in a smoking hot version of this cut. I like this better than the take on the other disc. It really seems to gel and groove so well. This powerhouse stomper is one of my favorite pieces here, really.
B
This is so weird and freaky. It's noisy and freeform. This is quite similar to a lot of the Rock In Opposition stuff. This is so chaotic and yet there is a definite pattern to it. It's not my thing, but I can appreciate it, anyway.
Afore the Morrow
There is a weird creepy element to this piece. It's noisy and dark. It feels a bit like something that could be included in a soundtrack to a horror movie. After that section works through, it drops to more of a mainstream, but still quite freeform, jazz jam. It turns toward mellower weirdness as it drives onward. The jamming intensifies as it continues. It eventually peaks and then seems to stop, but a new more mainstream jazz segment returns to end it.
 
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