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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Edition EDN 1014



1. Tax Return
2. Clint
3. 140
4. Golden
5. Bear
6. Cajoch
7. Twelve
8. Born in the 80s
9. Noonian Soong
10. Call
11. Zeitgeist

Chris Montague - Guitar
Kit Downes - Organ
Joshua Blackmore - Drums

Forget any preconceptions you may have about organ trios: this one is different from the norm. Most such groups specialise in bluesy grooves but not Troyka, a new British trio featuring keyboardist Kit Downes, whose piano-playing with the group Empirical I so admired. The trio's leader is actually Geordie guitarist Chris Montague, who also plays with the James Taylor Quartet. The drummer is Joshua Blackmore, a regular with Tom Cawley's Curios.

If this trio can be compared with any other organ group, it's Tony Williams' Lifetime, although Kit Downes thankfully makes the organ sound slightly less grating than Lifetime's Larry Young. Nevertheless Troyka can be as abrasive as paint-stripper. They say they are devotees of such ground-breakers (or ear-breakers) as Tim Berne, Aphex Twin and Wayne Krantz. Their publicity says: "Catch them in a club and you will feel the floor shake. See them at an outdoor festival and you may think you hear the wrath of god". The inner sleeve includes photos of Chris Montague sticking out this tongue and Kit Downes looking as bedraggled as Rasputin.

This may prepare you for the aural assault of Troyka's debut CD. Their offerings are hardly on the gentle or subdued side - although Born in the 80s starts with soft guitar strumming before it breaks out into piercing harshness. Chris Montague wrote most of the album, but Kit Downes contributed three numbers. It may be stretching things to call them "compositions", as many of the tracks lack discernible melodies. Golden, for example, sounds like tuning up - a series of fragments - rather than an integrated composition. Bear differs not in being more cohesive but simply by being noisier. Much of the music seems to be freely improvised - like the middle section of Bear, which only resolves into a couple of riffs. Where there is something like a tune, it tends to be a mere ostinato (as in Twelve). Such repetitive patterns can readily become tedious.

Because of Kit Downes' excellent former work with Empirical, I was looking forward to this album but I am sadly disappointed. Tony Williams was experimenting with this sort of thing 40 years ago - albeit with less free improv, which is often another way of saying disorder.


Tony Augarde 

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