Thursday, 29 December 2011

A Troop Of Echoes - Days In Automation


without relying on idioms or over excessive descriptions, A Troop Of Echoes are quite simply a Jazz-Rock quartet. When labelling artists it's important not to offend the artist by generalization and disastrous genre specifics. I'm trying my best not to be wrong here, this is Post-Rock. It's Post-Rock with a Free Jazz edge. Something quite extraordinary and unusual is created here. You have all the progressions and key instruments for a simplistic Rock group, but A Troop Of Echoes throw all sense of normality out the window with excessive soundscapes and beautiful track developments. Don't get me wrong, I love my Mono, my Mogwai, GY!BE, Slint and Bark Psychosis as much as the next man. A Troop Of Echoes give something different. When you strip back the reverb and dominant left sided Saxophone, Rock N' Roll breaks loose.

There's an underlined hint of beauty here. The opener, 'Hollywood Red', begins with synthesizers and a neat bass riff, progressing with with small guitar twinges and a style of drumming characteristic with Math Rock. Referring back to my genre ploy above, A Troop Of Echoes do have Math Rock structures. They're in that boat with Battles, where they can both be classified as Post-Rock and Math Rock, however they each have their own specific style. Battles being a 'loop' band with samplers, A Troop Of Echoes being a Free Jazz band. 

We hear the same grilling sound on the second track 'Golden Gears'. It has this extremely catchy guitar riff which can be heard during the centre segment of the track, where the guitar and bass follow the riff, with Saxophone leading into the fray. The drumming is hard hitting with a key focus on that small four second riff. You can hear some of the louder rhythmic segues taking place towards the end of the track, a sign of good things to come. It's exactly that with the thumping drum and distorted guitars on 'Providence Public Defender'. With a changed drum pattern one minute in, the musically trained band add dynamics and leave the 4/4 time signature lost in space. They play to their strengths by adding a little breakdown near the end, stripping back the distortion, eclipsing with a wall of noise and synthetic harmony, much like Mogwai.

The melancholy 'Sungazing' is reminiscent of the early 90's movement of artists such as Red House Painters and Low, also known as slowcore. This track has a definite structure compared to the previous few. It has a nice, slow introduction, with faster guitar rhythms and stronger bass leading towards the jazzy middle section. It ends with layered saxophone and the same (faster) guitar riff used to start the track.

'Little Bird' features a characteristic organ and jazz interlude. it sounds nice on the ear and reminds me of several Nintendo video games for some reason, happy times. The bass riff is consistent for the introduction before speeding up towards the climax. This track has been split in half. The first half features the saxophone taking lead without any guitar backing. The second combines brighter bass work with the reverbed guitar and ever present saxophone.

The noisy 'Analog Astronaught', brings comparisons to fellow Rhode Island band Lightning Bolt. The distorted guitar riff holds steady, whilst the instrumentation around it plays different time signatures. The guitar riff then builds up with the drums, for a small Jazz solo, then incomes the Foals-esque breakdown. It sounds remarkable with the very friendly bass and saxophone whining around on the dominant left side. It's very warming, A Troop Of Echoes are like a softer Maybeshweill without the vocal samples. 

The saxophone riff on 'End Over End', is a sign of good things to come for the band. It depends on what direction they see themselves taking, but short riff's like this could be looped and layered, stretched.. effected and just about any other studio technique to give it a compact sound. They however, seem to go for the stretched out, original, Post-Rock song structures. The eight minute long  'New Breath', highlights the bands musical ability. Three of the members studied music at the University of Rhode Island, clearly learning and putting to practise music theory in their music. It's a great enigmatic piece with several segments alike Godspeed You Black Emperor! 

As closers go, 'Ascenders' puts the Moog on the mood. With it's synthesized intro and electronic based soundscapes, it allows the alto sax to melodically form a unitary sound with the synthesizer and sparse light percussion. Secondary saxophone is heard with reverberated drumming, creating a Sigur Ros-esque sound. The bass takes focus towards the end of the track, with the cinematic drumming creating a vivid, textual atmosphere only Post-Rock bands can encounter.

I think it will be a bright future for A Troop Of Echoes. With a strong debut album under their belt, several important contacts in the music industry, A Troop Of Echoes can look forward to an eventful foray of future release and splendid write ups. They have supported such acts as Fang Island and Warpaint,  both bands were brought to light in 2010 with their debut albums. Some could say A Troop Of Echoes are halted and flawed by the lack of vocals, my opinion differs. Instrumental rock shines with cohesive song structures and that's exactly what A Troop Of Echoes are, instrumental rock. 

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