Thursday, March 11, 2004

Thrill Jockey

The first studio album from Vienna-based trio Trapist, Ballroom, is improv jazz first, electronic music second. The musicians — bassist Joe Williamson, Radian's drummer Martin Brandlmayr, and the prolific guitarist Martin Siewert — laid down the original tracks live, with no predetermined structure, and then went back to edit and overdub. What's notable about the recordings is the degree to which texture is made audible: a drumstick scratching back and forth over the snare drum head, the dull ring of a hand-muffled ride cymbal, perhaps even the creak of the drum stool. Silence is almost as important as sound, as evidenced by the vast, empty spaces of "Time Axis." Spacey yet restrained, chaotic yet rhythmic, Ballroom argues for the symbiotic relationship between electronic music and improvisational jazz. (CJN)

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