Triosk: The Headlight Serenade

According to group member Laurence Pike, the title of Triosk's second album, The Headlight Serenade (third, if you count the 1+3+1 collaboration with Jan Jelinek), is derived from “the transitory way that headlights pass across objects, creating split second moments and alternate spaces in time.” It's not only an illuminating comment but an apt characterization of the Australian trio's richly detailed sound.

The Headlight Serenade shows the group imaginatively circumventing any limitations one might associate with the classic piano-bass-drums configuration. What perhaps most recommends the group (drummer Pike, keyboardist Adrian Klumpes, and bassist Ben Waples) is that it deploys its virtuosic technical command in the service of original compositional writing. Hear, for example, how distinctively a subtly prodding bass motif floats atop a mechanically clattering cymbal storm and thrumming mass of piano blur in the modulating “Intensives Leben.”

Triosk rejects a tired structure like ‘introductory theme statement, individual soloing, concluding theme re-statement' for uncharted compositional territory guided by their simpatico instincts. The trio also admirably rejects the traditional ‘rhythm section and front-line' roles for an open-ended approach that sees each musician as a potential soloist. The album's centerpiece, the 11-minute meditation “Lazyboat,” suspends itself over a willowy foundation of soft electronic patterns while percussive and piano accents incessantly cluster and swarm around it. Even when hints of a more familiar style creep in, the group finds ways to subvert expectations, taking a bluesy dirge like “Not To Hurt You” and smothering it with unusual noise (Triosk extends its sound beyond the classic trio format by integrating electronics). At times, the trio appears to be teleporting its music back to earth from some distant space station (“Lost Broadcast”); in rare moments, the group navigates more familiar territory (the funky interlude “Lost Reprise”). Even the outro finds the trio confounding expectations with “Fear Survivor” opening cacophonously but eventually exiting with a graceful piano episode.

October 2006