Imagine this: You discover a band/performer/producer that you really (and I mean REALLY) like, you go out and look for their music in all the right (and sometimes wrong) places and you immerse yourself in what you're hearing. And after multiple repeats of their debut album you are left with the feeling that you want more. But there is no more. That's it. Over. No information anywhere about a new release. You're not even sure if they're working on a sophomore album and it's eating away at you. There are two artists in my library that expose me to this brand of musical torture: Damien Rice, who has been working on his new album for the past 6 years. And Trifonic, who's debut album Emergence has a fair amount of plays in my library ever since I first discovered them back in 2009. I think I have to exercise a bit more patience on the former. The latter, however, is finally here. And my god was it worth the wait!
The San Fransisco based electronic project comprising of brothers Brian and Laurence Trifon has always struck a special chord with me. Their blend of complex rhythms and sweeping guitar phrases mixed in with accessible song structures have always been a pleasure to listen to. It was a masterfully composed and full of segments worthy of remembrance. It was everything a debut album should be and more. It did make me worry at the time that their sophomore release would in no way be able to match the depth and complexity of 2008s Emergence. Ninth Wave is finally here…
I was prepared to be let down by it. A state of mind I immediately felt sorry for in the first five seconds of the album opener Nightrun (a collaboration with Australian producer Mindbuffer). It's glitchy, dubstep-y, IDM-esque goodness with an insane amount of attention to detail and it almost instantly made me turn up the sound to immerse myself in the warm sub-bass. Life In Here (feat. BRML) adds vocals into the already thick mix and the track is musically top notch. The glitched out drums and cold high frequency details are perfectly laid on top of a warm piano line. It’s an amazingly strong and emotional alternative pop song.
The title track Ninth Wave is a hauntingly laid back and complex track that leans heavily on processed and cut acoustic guitar melodies. All my doubts had vanished by this point, replaced by curiosity and eager to hear more. Baalbak is an emotionally deep and layered track which manages to pluck the right strings (no pun intended) with the processed guitars. Santa Rosa takes things down a notch by trading complexity and heavy rhythmic elements for melodic melodies and warm bass. The signature guitar harmonies are omnipresent and the reverb takes care of placing all the elements in exactly the right spaces, providing a convincing layer on top of a coherent distant soundscape that leads up to the inevitable build up. Live drums and all. There’s a soft chorus of female vocals which adds to the mysterious vibe that seems almost palpable. Calling builds on the vibe from Santa Rosa but takes away even more complexity and adds more ambiance, lulling you into a comfortable void.
The album closer Forget is an extremely tightly produced electropop song with a deliciously low cut bassline that really pushes the track forward whilst little bits of acid synths accompany a calming vocal line. As the last few seconds of the track rush by, you cannot help but feel a little saddened by the fact that the journey is over. Until you hit repeat.
The actual album is just under 40 minutes in length (not counting the excellent remix by Hecq and instrumentals of Life in Here and Forget. They also threw in a lengthy making off) and that makes it a very short album which I find disappointing when you have been waiting for 4 years. Other than that this release matches (and sometimes surpasses) Emergence. It's more accessible while but also more interesting. Fans of beat driven electronic music have to check it out. A contender for Album of the Year.