Spartak: Tales from The Colony Room

3ofmillions: Golden Calf 3"

Completely improvised over two days in Canberra, Australia, Tales From The Colony Room presents seven freewheeling tracks executed with aplomb by Spartak members Shoeb Ahmad (guitar, computer, vocal, electronics) and Evan Dorrian (drums, percussion). Dorrian's an explosive player whose inventive fills and cymbal colourations hold one's interest whether the setting's free jazz, electronic exploration, or guitar-heavy raver (e.g., the volcanic firestorm of activity he stokes beneath a bruising ambient surface in “Downfall: National Crackdown on Spitting”) while Ahmad adds a diverse and organic array of electronic and guitar textures to the pieces. The two conjure a wide-angle experimental landscape from shakers, bells, flowing electronic streams, and guitar shadings in “The Bloodletting” while monotone vocals and raw electric guitar playing give “Sunstrokes” a defiant post-punk edge. Being improv-based, the settings are admittedly more explorations than formal compositions but the duo's moment-by-moment interaction on atmospheric tracks like “Station Seven” and “Night and Day” sustains interest.

Triosk fans lamenting the group's demise can find solace in 3ofmillions, a new improvising jazz trio from Sydney featuring pianist Adrian Klumpes, acoustic bass guitarist Abel Cross, and drummer Finn Ryan. On the group's Golden Calf debut, the fourteen-minute title piece begins placidly with electronic shadings overlaid by ruminative bass and guitar explorations but things immediately heat up when drum brushes enter the picture at the five-minute mark. With all due respect to Klumpes and Cross, Ryan (like Dorrian before) is the MVP in this case, with his fulminating attack (abetted by Klumpes' dense rolls) pushing the piece to ever-ascending levels of intensity during its marathon run. The second piece, “Number 13,” a four-minute gamelan meditation with piano flourishes augmented by electronic fuzz and cymbal shadings, is fine too though admittedly overshadowed by the opener. In short, a promising debut.

August 2008