1. Blast Off
2. Separate Realities
3. Curse of the Ninth
5. Celestial Terrestrial Commuters
6. Gemini’s Descent
[Metal Blade Records]
Metal is not my favorite genre. While I love it with every beat of my heart, I belong to jazz. From John Coltrane to Mahavishnu Orchestra, to more recent classics like Liberation Prophecy and BADBADNOTGOOD, everything about the jazz genre just excites me in every way. So when I heard that Trioscapes was releasing a record through Metal Blade, I hounded for a promo copy. After listening multiple times, I can say with ease that metal listeners will love this record; for reasons other than the fact that Trioscapes shares a member with Between the Buried and Me.
Separate Realities almost feels like more of a metal record with a saxophone player instead of a guitar player. There are not many moments that are decidedly jazz at all; in fact, only in one song, “Wazzlejazzleboff“, does more traditional jazz reside. One band that Trioscapes strongly resembles is a lesser known band called Zu, which used similar instrumentation, only switching the tenor saxophone for a baritone saxophone. Along with Zu, one can easily hear some Tool and King Crimson influence, but they somehow weave these complex influences into something very accessible. You may accidentally catch yourself singing “Blast Off” or “Separate Realities” because the melodies are quite catchy.
Trioscapes also notably approaches recording the album like a metal band. You will sometimes hear two bass tracks, two saxophone tracks, or two drum tracks at the same time. You will also hear some thick distortion on the bass at times, as well as some drum loops and patches, and some keyboards. It’s also noticeable in the production of the record, which was handled by veteran producer Jamie King. It all works together for a very unique take on the jazz/metal fusion genre.
Another thing that shines on the record is the musicianship of these three men. Tenor saxophonist/flautist Walter Fancourt is an absolute monster on the saxophone, playing catchy, memorable riffs and riveting solos and leads. However, it’s his rare moments of flute playing that really steal the show, as it is absolutely beautiful. I would’ve loved to hear more of that. Dan Briggs proves once again that he is one of the best bassists alive today, as his playing is smooth, yet aggressive, powerful, yet light and playful, and fast, yet tasteful. His bass solos are very tasteful, like his noteworthy distorted bass solo in “Blast Off“, and the catchy chords in “Gemini’s Descent“. Finally, Matt Lynch is just as important to this ensemble as the other two men. His playing is what really gives this record it’s “metal” edge, as there are all sorts of techniques used in this record that are used in metal today. His fills are fast, yet deft, and his grooves are rock solid.
However, this record isn’t perfect. Songwriting doesn’t seem to be as big of an emphasis as it should be. For example, 11-minute epic “Separate Realities” has all kinds of memorable parts and fantastic playing, but there isn’t really much that ties it together into a song. It feels like more of a exhibition of a bunch of songs, rather than one individual song. However, don’t get me wrong; the songwriting overall is solid, and I’m sure these three musicians are capable of much more than just “solid” songwriting.
Nevertheless, it is without question that you shouldn’t let this record pass you by, regardless if you are a metal or jazz enthusiast. It may be a perfect bridge into jazz for the metal fan, and vice versa. From the progessive-natured “Blast Off” and “Separate Realities“, to the more traditional jazz like “Wazzlejazzleboff” and the cover of Mahavishnu Orchestra’s “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters“, you will not be disappointed. Trioscapes have put together an absolutely marvelous record, and, like any group of this nature, one can only hope that this isn’t just a one time thing.