Album of the Week – ‘Known-Unknown’ by Trichotomy
Track by track review:
‘Five’ is beautifully unpredictable. It welcomes tricky time signatures and dynamic and rhythmic contrasts. Its incorporation of acoustic improvisations against manipulated instruments and electronics are all balanced through elaborate harmonies and melodies.
‘Cells’ tells a story of adventure filled with excitement, tension and hope. Foran and Parker have both studied cinematic composition in the past and ‘Cells’ creates that epic narrative through the piano’s structured melodies, all while staying true to the “known-unknown” by incorporating rhythmic improvisation in the percussion and electronic manipulations. The narrative’s finale is dramatic and heart-warming, and a great feeling of accomplishment sets in.
‘Junk’ yeah. The energy is strong in this one. The time signature and dynamic changes keep you guessing, however the piano withholds the up-beat melody. The looping and manipulation creates depth, and Foran says that in utilising looping effects, it creates added capacities to their already intricate compositions. ‘Junk’ is an exciting journey through the unknown, as Foran also mentions that there is no real plan for how they create the looping and manipulations.
‘Imaginary Limits’ is a jazzy groove with a modern element of distorted piano, unpredictable time signatures and the drums emphasis on the off-beat.
‘Past Tense’ re-introduces the cinematic composition. The soft, delicate melody of the piano against the melancholic sighs of the double bass creates a strong narrative, and its passionate dynamic escalation throughout suggests a sense of impatience and displeasure.
‘Asset or Liability’ focuses more on Parker’s skills on the drums, which creates animated rhythms against the pianos distortion and repetitive chord and melodic structures. Manipulation and electronics are introduced enthusiastically throughout which often mimic the sound of a laser gun, definitely a factor of the unknown.
‘It’s strange coming back’ tells a story of nostalgia. The trills of the piano carry the melody, the double bass plays gentle harmonies, and the drums and percussion bring colour through the song. It is more relatable than many other of their songs on the album, and as the song name suggests, it takes you back to a place you may thought you’d never visit again.
‘Reverie of lack’, a song by Parker, becomes immersed in electronic repetitions on the piano and double bass, all while holding the melody through expressive piano. It revels in frantic rhythms which remind me of running late. There’s a level of excitement of the mixture of modern technology and acoustic instruments throughout this album, and this song definitely accentuates the contrast between the two.
‘Semi-Quasars’ has a sense of madness, with intertwined rhythms against improvised melodies again focusing on the off-beat. The acoustic-electronic affair really adds to the crazed melody structure of the piano, and the double bass is dramatically introduced throughout the song with repetitive and rough chords. Parker mentioned that by adding electronics against their instruments brought a new direction to what they’d previously done as a trio, and it brought more depth and value.
‘Hemmingways’ is a lovely way to end the rollercoaster journey that was ‘Known-Unknown’. It has the beautiful melodies and rhythm that you sometimes urge from the piano and double bass. The drum takes control for the most part, before introducing the sultry harmonic solo of the piano and electronics. It warms your heart, and you’re soon brought back to earth to tap your feet once more to the elegant yet intricate rhythms and sounds of Trichotomy.
What Trichotomy have to say about the release –
For a group that has been making music since 1999, every album is an opportunity for us to create something new, to test ideas, to challenge ourselves, to break expectations, to bend process, to surprise the listener. This album is our continued attempt at these concepts, and is the collective voice of three musicians operating as one.
It’s been a little while in the making… perhaps longer than we had planned….. We had come to the recording session with a mix of material. Some we had performed live extensively and shaped through those experiences, and there were some new compositions, written specifically for the session and the album. Sure, that is an apt description of the material that we approached over five days in June 2016, but more importantly it is a representation of the push and pull within improvised music.
The known elements, such as written melodies, harmonies and rhythms are combined with the unknown moments… the collective improvised experience, the dynamic and textural changes that happen in the moment and the collective emergent sound created for this precise time only. For us, the Known and Unknown is the beauty, exhilaration and energy of the music. The music cannot exist without both, and both must remain in balance. Our hope is that you hear into the music, the layers, the moment, and the melody within.
4. Imaginary Limits
5. Past Tense
6. Asset or Liability
7. It’s strange coming back
8. Reverie of lack
Sean Foran – piano + electronics
John Parker – drums + electronics
Sam Vincent – bass + electronics