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Triac - Across [Polar Seas - 2017]

Triac's last CD album, 2015's Days, was a refreshingly cool blast of affecting electro-acoustic drone, offset by a lingering, almost gothic sense of dread. They distil from their spartan trio of laptop, synth and fretless bass a surprisingly organic and dense miasma of sound, none of which can easily be reduced to its constituent parts. This new extended EP on the Canadian micro imprint Polar Seas is a single thirty minute exploration of the textures and moods which on Days were drawn out in more isolated fashion.

Discerning individual contributions is nigh-on impossible as Triac's sound rises up as an undifferentiated whole; a sound-'scape' in the original sense of being at the base or ground level, upon which everything else stands. And just like in landscape the pleasure comes from appreciating how that grounding itself is formed and the vista it brings to the senses. Harmonics are not so much played here but rather formed and shaped; the resulting dissonance and combination with effects gives the listener a feeling like passing through layers of musical fog. Or perhaps something like that extended sequence in Star Trek The Motion Picture when the Enterprise flies into the heart of a mysterious cloud through what appear on screen to be endless banks of sound waves.

The composition -and it is clearly a composition - recedes in places, allowing a particular tone or set of harmonics to come forward and hover briefly before diving back beneath the undulating waves. This is the basic pattern which recurs across the length of the piece. Repeated listens reveal microtonal variations and subtle shifts in colour where an inattentive listener might hear only an unchanging blur of sound. Where Triac follow genre convention they appear like a more organic, pastorally inclined La Monte young, drawing out every last drop from a relatively limited set of tone colours. This comparison though should be tempered with the fact of Triac's darker tendencies. Their overall mood never descends into hippy states of transcendence, always instead keeping on the shadier side of the drone.

At around the twenty minute mark there is a hint of the underbelly of post-production, something like the sound of strings, processed, draw out, all the low end evacuated and left like phantoms drifting just beyond the ear's ability to discern. Across is full of such moments. And just as you think the image they want you to see is coming into view, the disk ends. Repeated plays draw you in again but this edgeless music - like all good drone - never gives up its secret.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Duncan Simpson
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