1. Tax Return
8. Born in the 80s
9. Noonian Soong
Chris Montague - Guitar
Kit Downes - Organ
Joshua Blackmore - Drums
Forget any preconceptions you may have about organ trios: this one
is different from the norm. Most such groups specialise in bluesy
grooves but not Troyka, a new British trio featuring keyboardist Kit
Downes, whose piano-playing with the group Empirical I so admired.
The trio's leader is actually Geordie guitarist Chris Montague, who
also plays with the James Taylor Quartet. The drummer is Joshua Blackmore,
a regular with Tom Cawley's Curios.
If this trio can be compared with any other organ group, it's Tony
Williams' Lifetime, although Kit Downes thankfully makes the organ
sound slightly less grating than Lifetime's Larry Young. Nevertheless
Troyka can be as abrasive as paint-stripper. They say they are devotees
of such ground-breakers (or ear-breakers) as Tim Berne, Aphex Twin
and Wayne Krantz. Their publicity says: "Catch them in a club
and you will feel the floor shake. See them at an outdoor festival
and you may think you hear the wrath of god". The inner sleeve
includes photos of Chris Montague sticking out this tongue and Kit
Downes looking as bedraggled as Rasputin.
This may prepare you for the aural assault of Troyka's debut CD.
Their offerings are hardly on the gentle or subdued side - although
Born in the 80s starts with soft guitar strumming before it
breaks out into piercing harshness. Chris Montague wrote most of the
album, but Kit Downes contributed three numbers. It may be stretching
things to call them "compositions", as many of the tracks
lack discernible melodies. Golden, for example, sounds like
tuning up - a series of fragments - rather than an integrated composition.
Bear differs not in being more cohesive but simply by being
noisier. Much of the music seems to be freely improvised - like the
middle section of Bear, which only resolves into a couple of
riffs. Where there is something like a tune, it tends to be a mere
ostinato (as in Twelve). Such repetitive patterns can readily
Because of Kit Downes' excellent former work with Empirical, I was
looking forward to this album but I am sadly disappointed. Tony Williams
was experimenting with this sort of thing 40 years ago - albeit with
less free improv, which is often another way of saying disorder.