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Triosk - Moment Returns

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Artist: Triosk

Album: Moment Returns

Label: Leaf

Review date: Sep. 30, 2004

Duke Ellington posited, "It is quite improbable that we will ever know who is enjoying the shadow of whom." He was speaking of globalization, but Triosk's music suggests an alteration to the pianist's words that addresses the man-machine dialogue: "It is possible we will never know who is enjoying the sample of whom." Jan Jelinek's Loop-finding-jazz records inspired the trio to integrate more samples into their improvisations. In 2003 they collaborated with Jelinek on Scape's 1+3+1, and the four recently brought the studio project to the stage for an Australian tour. And now on Moment Returns, the trio's debut, Jelinek is present only in spirit, as the three Australians combine live improvisation with post-production work, sampling themselves and Jelinek's 2001 Scape release to create delicate, gossamer webs of minutely shifting tones.

Jelinek constructs micro-samples and glitch textures with gentle, illusory peaks, not by adding or subtracting, or by increases in volume or tempo, but by subtly altering pitch and tonal color. The effect recalls minimalism, in that it does not go anywhere. No harmonic movement, static rhythms – meditation on a still point. Triosk follows the same path on pieces like "Love Chariot" and "I am a Beautiful and unique Snowflake." The drummer Laurence Pike teases light crescendos on his ride cymbal, the bassist Ben Waples harps almost mechanically on single tones and the pianist Adrian Klumpes either blocks out high-register clusters or insinuates melodic fragments around the pulsing mass.

The worst minimalism failed because it sounded cold, mechanical and academic; Jelinek and Triosk succeed by injecting more visceral elements: Jelinek, a skeletal four-on-the-floor techno throb and Triosk, live instrumentation. On "Chronosynclasitc Infundibula" one can hear an active dialogue, Waples' high-register double bass counterpointing, like the Bill Evans' trio's Scott Lefaro, around a glinting Jelinek sample. The loop centers all the interaction as the piece drifts, unmoored, a buoy bobbing on an ocean of surface static, wandering piano arpeggios, panning dub effects and inconstant drum coloring.

The more straight-ahead, stilted funk of "Two:twelve" does not succeed, the samples and live material combing like oil on water. The album works best when at its most abstract, when the line between live and sampled blurs. The effect is like an iridescent soap bubble: delicate, one-dimensional surfaces swirling with colors. The drumless "Awake in the Deep" seems almost empty, Waples' steely electric bass line becoming just a spare atmospheric sequence of sounds. On "Goodnight," Klumpes samples and echoes his synth and Rhodes into a bright, crisscrossing cloud.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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