Three Trapped Tigers Numbers: 1-13 Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Uniquely inspiring, genre-busting fare from a trio of fiercely creative musicians.

Mike Diver 2012

Precedent counts for a lot. Foundations, primarily, in one’s art; yet it also grants the critic a handhold in the assessment of new sounds. Band Y can be traced to Band X, and so forth. But Three Trapped Tigers don’t really present much in the way of precursory parallels: their sound, as sharply honed on 2011’s debut album Route One or Die, bore the behests of only a few forerunners, namely these 13 tracks of their own creation.

Numbers collects the compositions which made up TTT’s three album-preceding EPs – but it’s no ‘classic’ retrospective, more in tune with a musical future that sci-fi writers would face a challenge mapping from the here and now. Genre tropes are cast into a breeze and blown into a skies-blackening storm of tremendous self-confidence: not once do these three musicians give an inch, remaining fully focused on transforming what might be heard as rock, or jazz, or electro, into a beguiling and bombastic product shaped by talents of above-accomplished ability. This is sound that can only find its first breaths in isolation; but by the time it faces the public, a tentative wheeze has given way to an electrifying roar.

Truly, it is no folly to place TTT outside of all given pigeonholes – their transitions from half-formed motifs to all-out sonic warfare are bewildering in complexity and devilishly addictive of design. If for no other reason, the listener returns to try to establish just how drummer Adam Betts kept pace with a wall of spluttering circuit boards during the convulsive climax of 3; to hazard a guess at how many split skins were shed during 7, both from the kit and the hands that pummel such magic into it. If Betts is the dramatically ductile backbone about which these pieces snake, then the contributions of Matt Calvert and Tom Rogerson comprise the comparatively diaphanous contrast which has the percussive power of this trio standing so toweringly.

Not that the keys and guitars are but airy asides: a grungy squeal opens 8 only for a torrent of electro squelches and screams to pour forth from the mix, washing aside any notion of ‘rock’ normality and rendering the piece as being of its own mysterious lineage. 5 is as straight jazz as TTT get – from afar it could be mistaken for Brad Mehldau tickling piano keys atop a Warp catalogue breakbeat – but 10 is a beast of a cut, next to which the chattering cacophonies of Crystal Castles seem like whispers lost in a crowd. It’s all uniquely inspiring, and completely detached from convenient comparisons of the recent past (any aforementioned acts appear through the loosest associations).

To the readers of 2050: this is, quite possibly, where your pop’s precedent took root.

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