Three Trapped Tigers

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Route One or Die (2011), 6.5/10
The Three EPs (2011), 7/10 (compilation)

London's instrumental trio Three Trapped Tigers (keyboardist Tom Rogerson, guitarist Matt Calvert and drummer Adam Betts) shaped their identity via three adventurous EPs. The songs of the EPs are untitled. The first one (Klee, 2009) opens with a piece that alternates the guitar's sharp dissonance leading a spastic blues jam a` la Captain Beefheart and tinkling electronics that intones a sort of neoclassical fugue. The incendiary second piece steals a few pages from the books of prog-rock and post-rock (Bitch Magnet, Don Caballero). The third piece turns to electronic jazz-rock with the nonchalance of Weather Report and the childish playfulness of early synth-pop hits. The intimidating tribal dance of the fourth piece emerges slowly from a subsonic chaos of electronic signals. Despite the catastrophic finale, the fifth piece is the smoothest and most linear jam, with a piano leading the repetition of a melodic pattern in a manner reminiscent of both Soft Machine and the Necks.

This highly erudite synthesis of rock and electronic music was discarded on the second EP (Blood and Biscuits, 2009) for a more trivial form of instrumental rock. The first piece displays a punkish jazz-rock progression that recalls early Police, the second one is quasi-metal with the keyboards even adding melodramatic pomp, and the third one (and best one) is a collective hysterical fit.

The third EP (Blood and Biscuits, 2010) is more focused on the contradictory post-rock dynamics (changes of mood and tempo) but still enamored of massive soaring keyboards. Only the fourth piece (another artistic peak) attempts the kind of creative jazzy spacey use of the electronics that shone on the first EP, and even in this one the loud keyboard intervention and the ebbing sea of percussion evoke a remix of a synth-pop hit from the 1980s.

That kind of electronic fusion jazz-rock led to the compact and elegant sound of Route One or Die (Blood And Biscuits, 2011), with the trio often comparing favorably with the digital version of Emerson Lake & Palmer's rock (not classical) moments. The frenzied Cramm that repeats a simply melodic motif in different ways, and even more melodic is the theme of Noise Trade, despite the impressive acceleration, Ulnastricter initially deceives with echoes of atmospheric synth-pop but then the instrumental interplay picks up momentum again. Ditto for Magne, that begins impressionistic and tentative, and for closer Reset, that reaches an apex of pomp. Most of these instrumentals just cannot control their strength, that sooner or later is bound to erupt. Some more creative moments surface in Creepies, that mixes electronic noise and aggressive percussion, and in the quiet somnolent piano sonata Zil, but those are exceptions that hardly change the overall climate.

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(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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