Trills: Modular Puzzle
I, Absentee

Modular Puzzle is the first physical release by Trills (Houston, Texas resident Jonathan Jindra), arriving as it does after digital releases on Archaic Horizon and elsewhere. One could be forgiven for thinking of the earlier releases as trial runs for the new one, given how fully-formed and confident the seventy-minute collection comes across. In the album's twelve tracks, Jindra convincingly tackles a number of styles and invests the results with a slightly looney cheekiness that's not unwelcome. He's not afraid to derail the momentum of a track when the mood strikes, and listener is kept constantly on his/her toes.

The opener “Zurich” throws down a serious gauntlet when it swoops in like a fleet of 747s with a fierce acid-techno throb that grinds and pounds mercilessly. Jindra follows it with crushing boom-bap (“Binarium”), galloping techno (“Purple Triangle”), and a funky cross-breed of IDM and hip-hop (“Flavia”). “Faile” morphs from an epic IDM opening into a convulsive splatterfest of panting voices and grinding noises, “Public Announcement” is an acid trip so wild it could pass for a track by Luke Vibert, and the album's towering epic, “Phaeloe,” stokes Dionysian delirium with nine awesome minutes of blazing acid-techno that must be heard to be believed. The track that follows, which can't help but seem antic-climactic after that throwdown, is like the denoument after the climax. Thus the suitably mystical ambient of “Shiva” allows the listener to recover from the freneticism of “Phaeloe,” after which the gradually escalating IDM attack of “Paragon” re-introduces a brooding epic tone to the album, and the pummeling space-prog squealer “Erawitt” prevents the listener from doing anything but go gently into that good night. The furthest thing from wallpaper music, Modular Puzzle is more than a little audacious. Each track offers one surprise or another, and every one feels like a plunge down one rabbit hole or another.

March 2010