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The Golden Arm Trio The Tick Tock Club Review

Album. Released 2008.  

BBC Review

Whatever's going on inside the head of the Golden Arm Trio,it must be one hell of a movie.

Jack Jewers 2008

The Golden Arm Trio – the collective name for Austin, Texas based jazz experimentalist, Graham Reynolds, and far more than two collaborators – first came to prominence with its score for Richard Linklater's film, A Scanner Darkly, in 2006. It's taken them two years to come up with this inventive follow-up, based around the idea of creating a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist. It’s an ambitious concept, not entirely original, but handled with enough verve and panache to place it head and shoulders above most antecedents of the genre.

Bulldoze: the Super Power Dance comes over like a kind of pimped up Best of Benny Goodman; the sort of music that was always playing in hell in old Bugs Bunny cartoons, with the sound of old-fashioned sin and moonshine dripping languidly off muted trumpets and epileptic drums.

Much of the album is imbued with the same frenetic energy, although tracks such as He Likes An Eyewitness provide an effective counterweight, rich in quiet menace with a simple, brooding melody and rain-on-concrete soundscape. Similarly, the downbeat opener, Dmitri Dmitryevich, exudes a feeling of sinister melancholy, as if Peter Lorre had been reincarnated as a pair of double basses with a hint of synth undertone.

Indeed, the Tick Tock Club is filled with themes for characters that have no corporeal form, but nonetheless sound as if they’ve stepped right out of Loew’s Pitkin and found life in 40 minutes of disembodied soundtrack. Who is Speedy Jinx and how did he meet his end? What’s the Duchess of Parma got to do with anything? And for that matter, just what is the Tick Tock Club?

This lack of context should make for a somewhat directionless listening experience, but actually the reverse is true – this album feels like a sort of homage to the genre as a whole, cherry picking mood and style, freed from the actual business of having to provide a score to anything. Part jazz-age crime caper, part Philip K Dick-style noir, whatever's going on inside the head of the Golden Arm Trio, it must be one hell of a movie.

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