Trioscapes
Digital Dream Sequence


3.7
great

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
August 25th, 2014 | 39 replies


Release Date: 08/19/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Jazzallax II.

Back in 2012, Trioscapes enraptured the modern prog scene with the ‘70s jazz-rock worship of Separate Realities. The trio’s sonically volatile debut had all the unrestrained looseness and grit of classic fusion, but also (as ensured under the leadership of bassist Dan Briggs) unfolded to reveal a ‘prog-minded’ agenda (i.e. intricately layered sounds that projected an affinity for the same cerebral weirdness and sci-fi theatrics that Between the Buried and Me hold on to like dear life). Songs like the space-age jazzer “Curse of the Ninth” and the maze-like mystifier “Separate Realities,” exhibited a kind of unbridled creativity that pushed the boundaries of musical extremism and culminated in the fruition of potent fusion that sounded like Weather Report’s synth-laden futurism colliding with the sonic onslaught of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. Even “wazzlejazzlebof," an awkwardly structured experiment rooted in ‘60s avant-garde, showcased its own fair share of eloquence. Saxophionist Walter Fancourt in particular, dominated the track with a versatility in style that exhibited influences from Yusef Lateef’s eclectic and arabian-tinged melodies to Coltrane’s high-pitched wails of vivacity.

Now comes Digital Dream Sequence, a sequel that I personally found difficult to wrap my head around. For the most part, Digital Dream Sequence plays like it was designed to virtually mirror Separate Realities’ sound. Immediately as the title track opens the album, the feeling of déja vu is impossible to shake off. Much like in “Blast Off," Trioscapes spare no time in exhibiting their music power by playing at maximum volume and tempo in “Digital Dream Sequence.” In fact, it’s pretty much a long period of dynamic extremes. Other tracks, like “Stab Wounds” and “Hysteria,” continue along a similar cycle of musical buildup and release as well. Each one unveiling like compact, ‘avant-fusion’ symphonies where the trio disassemble the rhythmic and melodic framework at whim, and basically treat each piece like an open canvas for intricate melodies and solos that mold into a claustrophobic and even dizzying surge of sound. Granted, these are earth-shattering tracks that make the virtuosic competence of the individual musicians abundantly clear (seriously, Dan Briggs sounds like he’s getting possessed by John McLaughlin with that solo near the end of “Stab Wounds,” and Walter Fancourt’s range never ceases to astound throughout the album), but there’s very little else to take away that wasn’t already heard in Separate Realities.

Digital Dream Sequence delivers another impressive display of space-age fusion, no doubt about it, but like its predecessor, it's too reliant on grandiose virtuosity and hyperactive movements that are constantly compromising the album's degree of accessibility. I understand that one of the reasons that makes Trioscapes so appealing to today’s prog-heads and tech-metal fanatics is that they specialize in the kind of balls-to-the-wall wailing that makes The Inner Mounting Flame sound like Time Out in comparison, but a band can’t succeed on an artistic level shuttling between dynamic extremes alone. I mean, yes, volume, energy and virtuosity are pretty much synonymous with jazz fusion (a stereotype analogous to the relationship between dubstep and “wubs”), but toning down the dynamic extremes and allowing the music to flow in a natural and more melodic fashion, provides a greater range and makes room for more creative potential (albums like Hot Rats and No Mystery being a testament to that).

“The Jungle” and “From the Earth to the Moon,” while never really forgoing the flash or pretension of the other tracks, do show Trioscapes stepping in the right direction by trending towards more layered, eloquent and vaguely surreal compositions. “The Jungle” is a 15-minute extravaganza of progressive jazz, and by far the best track in the album. Like “Separate Realities” before it, “The Jungle” constantly shifts in mood, volume and tempo, only this time Trioscapes deliver much more than complex structures. There’s a nuanced production to “The Jungle,” encompassing a redefined ‘loud-soft-loud’ dynamic that gives the music an odyssey-like feel, but performed with impeccable fluidity. “From the Earth to the Moon” is a bit more dimensional. It’s a mind-bending mélange of world-fusion and schizophrenic jam-rock (think ‘Mysterious Traveller-era Weather Report jamming with Frank Zappa's band from Waka/Jawaka'). There are enough instances in Digital Dream Sequence that exhibit growth in the trio’s songwriting, but it's still a bit too reliant on past aesthetics. Trioscapes are showing signs of change though, they’re faint, but if they keep pursuing new directions and mature even further as a band, their next album could be the culmination of everything they've been working towards. This, for now, feels like a stepping stone to that.




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3.9
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Separate Realities

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

so, this is my first review in months so i dont know how will it turned out. any advice/criticism is always welcome. also, i
couldnt think of a summary so i went with that if people hate it enough i'll change it.

CaptainDooRight
August 25th 2014


30334 Comments


ah I remember this band, I remember we had many conversations about their debut in the past, good to see they have new material. I'm interested in checking it out

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


10383 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

Digital Dream Sequence delivers another impressive display space-age fusion

of*

I'm intrigued by how hard this album is to swallow. On paper it strikes me as better than Separate Realities, but it's also a more taxing listen (likely the higher degree of jazz influence.)

Digging: Thou - Heathen

ExplosiveOranges
August 25th 2014


3904 Comments


Great to have you back, Hernan. I'll probably give this a go at some point.

Digging: Millicent Waffles - Under Dark Blue Blanket

CaptainDooRight
August 25th 2014


30334 Comments


their Digital Dream Sequence making of on YT is pre cool

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@jacob thanks man. And yeah I found it a bit rough at first (but mainly because I haven't been in a prog/jazz mood as much) but I do think it's better than the first which sometimes sounded kind of clunky at times idk.
@captain It's decent. I think you'll appreciate the technical work
@oranges sup. and thanks.


organizedsound
August 25th 2014


145 Comments


Good review and awesome album. However, one defining feature of the band which you, along with other reviewers, tend to neglect is the influence of John Zorn's late 80s and early 90s "jazz" work (particularly Naked City, and to a lesser extent Painkiller). So much of their sound comes from taking the sounds and aesthetics of Naked City, a blatantly avant garde project, and incorporating them into a decidedly un-avant garde musical atmosphere. They are definitely rooted in traditional 70s fusion and modern prog metal, but the Mahavishnu and BTBAM comparisons don't do them justice

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I haven't personally heard john zorn, so that's why I didn't mention his influence. But comparisons are just to get an idea of the sound- doesn't have to be an exact match. Will check out john sorb though. Any recs on where to start?

organizedsound
August 25th 2014


145 Comments


It's cool, I'm just pointing out something that seems to go unnoticed by most reviewers. It's kind of to be expected–I don't expect much of Trioscapes' core audience to have listened to Zorn, it's just a difference scene. I do think that for most Trioscapes fans, listening to Naked City might help them make a little more sense of their albums. Don't get me wrong, your review was great, and I'm just the guy ranting in the comments, while you had the balls to post a review.

As for Zorn recs–He's monolith of the modern avant-garde, whose output dwarves that of someone as prolific as Zappa, working with jazz, orchestral music, conceptual pieces, and even punk/metal. In the context of this Trioscapes conversation, it's really best to start with Naked City's self titled album–It rules. Mishmash of free jazz, grindcore, and everything else. It kind of perfected the crazy juxtaposition thing that would later be associated with Mr. Bungle and eventually BTBAM

Totengott
August 25th 2014


1632 Comments


Going to jam this, see how I like it.

Digging: Motorpsycho - Behind the Sun

Impervious
August 25th 2014


426 Comments


Is this band/album straight intrumental or does this have any vocals?

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Solely instrumental.

theacademy
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


28825 Comments


haha nice summary

Digging: Charli XCX - Sucker

Tyrael
August 25th 2014


20974 Comments


that summary

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2014


4458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

@organized i've never been big on free jazz and especially grindcore, but i'll check it out anyway. thanks.

@acad thanks and congrats on staff man. haven't been on here as much, but i hear you're really helping this place run smoother.

bloc
August 25th 2014


35024 Comments


I'll check this, but it will probably be boring after a few listens

solongatlast
August 25th 2014


206 Comments


How does this compare with Exivious?

Digging: Stellar Young - Vessels

tommygun
August 25th 2014


25413 Comments


new hernan review??? will read

tommygun
August 25th 2014


25413 Comments


yea nice one good to see you back behind the typewriter matey

Onirium
August 25th 2014


2394 Comments


I'll definitely check this out, sounds pretty cool and interesting

Digging: Ulver - Perdition City



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