Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Album Review: Trioscapes - Separate Realities

Album Rating: B-
It was inevitable. Perhaps we should have seen it sooner than now, but looking back upon Dan Briggs’ work it seems only obvious that the man would eventually dabble with jazz. From the swing of Between the Buried and Me’s “Laser Speed” to the jazz-tinged progressive passages of ORBS’ “Eclipsical,” Dan’s side projects have always displayed hints of what was to come. Now that it's here, Separate Realities is everything expected from a Briggs side project and more. It’s also evident that he and his cohorts have spent much time listening to unstructured progressive, for while Separate Realities harbors great potential its ultimate downfall is its songwriting choices.

Much of the music is thrown together in ways that just don’t make sense. The album ends with “Gemini’s Descent,” which comes together through a brooding bass part repeated for even longer than two minutes. One has to wonder why the build-up is completely thrown away at the end, only to go into a randomly placed passage that fails to satisfy. In addition, “Wazzlejazzlebof” is sometimes as much of a compositional mess as its title implies, and this is most evident in its awkward beginning. Across the album there are uncomfortable tempo changes abound, forced progressions and overall questionable songwriting calls. Decisions like this one plague Separate Realities, and ensure that it isn’t quite as potent as it could have been.

However, the album certainly isn’t a failure. For all of its blemishes, Separate Realities is beautiful when it shines. As a Shyamalan twist, the album’s longest track is easily its most coherent. The title track builds up marvelously, and then goes in a direction in which it was actually meant to go. Moments like these are refreshing, and are reminders that we’re dealing with musicians that know how to sate their fans' interest. While it’s true that there are downfalls on Separate Realities, it’s also vital to note its many positive attributes. For instance, the most accessible song on the album is its opening track. “Blast Off!” has an evident goal, multiple refrains, some very tasteful soloing, and a clear endpoint. The track successfully introduces listeners to the idea of saxophone alongside contemporary rock instruments, and bolsters what exactly the odd trio can accomplish when focus is at the forefront. And while there are many reasons to get frustrated with the album, there exist just as many reasons to be infatuated with it. This comes as no surprise, seeing as many of the most ambitious albums create such polarizing responses. After all, ambition is what creates many of the true masterpieces in the world, and this indicates that Trioscapes are heading in the right direction.


1. Blast Off
2. Separate Realities
3. Curse of the Ninth
4. Wazzlejazzlebof
5. Celestial Terrestrial Commuters
6. Gemini's Descent


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