A transgressive sound, full of bent notes and shiny contortions.
Martin Longley 2009-06-29
Troyka are yet another young London combo who are inhabiting the increasingly vibrant scene that's devoted to the uninhibited collision between jazz, rock, free improvisation and funky jamming. They're beaming off into a completely different direction when compared to the work of keyboardist Kit Downes' previous band, Empirical. Downes has so far been heard as an acoustic pianist, but in this setting he concentrates on the organ, cranked up to its grittiest settings.
Troyka's other two members are not so familiar on the jazz scene, but they're certainly empowered to excite. Guitarist Chris Montague and drummer Joshua Blackmore add to the forceful jazz-rock judder, with spiny constructions and shifty beats, as Downes jams out on his electro-warbled keys. It's a transgressive sound, full of bent notes and shiny contortions, erupting with powerchords and prog rock organ bursts, and even featuring the odd dose of bluesy bottleneck slide guitar.
The opening pair of tracks are so profoundly excessive in their pursuit of leaden riffage that, for a while, subsequent pieces can't help but feel restfully inactive by comparison. Tax Return contorts around an organ susurrus, with guitar that's by turns prickly and overloaded. It's not surprising that New Yorker Wayne Krantz is cited by the band as a heavy influence. The Frenchman Marc Ducret could be another contender as a guitaring forefather. Blackmore's drum patterns are highly detailed, the Troyka combination ending up as being at once avant and visceral. The chunky organ flamboyance can't help but remind the listener of Soft Machine's Mike Ratledge. Even mightier, Clint must surely be dedicated to Mister Eastwood in Dirty Harry guise, with its extremely weighty powerchords and bassy overhang.
The itchy time signatures continue, but most of the heavy artillery is reserved now until the album's closing tracks. A sinister bass padding dominates Bear, then Cajoch gets into some fidgety clenching. Twelve rains organ droplets, with a guitar that arcs up from vibrato-ed pings to the return of that earlier scalding sensation. The granite riffing is sustained during Born In The 80s, but it's now alternating with a glowing sensitivity. With Noonian Song, Montague is getting into Krantz via the arcane tunings of composer Harry Partch, or maybe even the bendy tonalities of Fred Frith's table-top guitars.