Triosk: Moment Returns

Triosk rewrites the jazz trio rule book on its first proper full-length following last year's 1+3+1 with Jan Jelinek. On that imaginative outing, the Australian trio (pianist Adrian Klumpes, double bassist Ben Waples, and drummer Laurence Pike) made acoustic contributions to Jelinek's originating tracks and then returned them for final touches. Although two tracks do contain Jelinek samples, his individuating touch is otherwise absent on Moment Returns; yet though the sensibility is skewed towards Triosk, the album sound is not radically changed from before, given the generous assortment of loops the trio adds to its ten pieces; electronics are integrated subtly, even coluristically, to provide a slightly noisy undercurrent.

Certainly Triosk exemplifies many of the qualities that distinguish great jazz trios (like that of Bill Evans, for example): telepathic sensitivity, advanced technique, and a distaste for the rigidly predetermined in favour of spontaneous elasticity. However, while Triosk is a jazz group by instrumentation (its basic trio sound augmented by vibes and Fender Rhodes) it's hardly so by conception as the trio broaches its material with a determinedly experimental mindset. Remarkably, Moment Returns seems to contain ample moments of improvisatory freedom yet only one song truly stretches out (the nine-minute “I Am A Beautiful & Unique Snowflake”) with the rest hovering around the four-minute mark; as such, the group eschews excessively long soloing and, in fact, more resembles a singular mutating organism than soloists accompanied by supportive backup.

Bookended by evocative soundscapes (high-pitched tones and muffled pops in “The Streets Are Empty” and willowy electronics in “Goodnight”), the album really hits its stride on “Chronosynclastic Infundibula” where Klumpes' anchoring piano voices an atonally meandering line while bass and drums produce a swirling pulse that never settles into predictable patterns; with his impeccable feel for time, Pike's playing maintains a forceful propulsion that recalls Elvin Jones. Although the group proves a deft hand at poised restraint (the elegant sway of “Re-ignite” and the ruminative “Tomorrowtoday (Pt. 1)”), the standout is the aforementioned “I Am A Beautiful & Unique Snowflake.” In this stunning exercise in conceptual execution, a gentle intro sets a pensive mood before ceding the stage to pulsating waves of percussive chordal clusters and cymbal splashes that hypnotically rise and fall.

What makes Moment Returns especially noteworthy is the manner by which Triosk collapses the conventions of the trio format and re-constitutes them according to its own novel conception. Rejecting the oft-deployed head-solos-head structure, the group devises fresh compositional structures and expands the stylistic palette by integrating textures and concepts associated with minimalism and electronic music.

February 2005