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Trimtab: New Model
Music coexists with the discipline of geometry on Trimtab’s latest album New Model. The sonic plane of this compositional collection equally addresses concerns of sound and silence, and questions of shape and properties of space.
This is not a surprising juxtaposition from a band who formed in 2001 and who’s first album, The Car, the House, and the Map (2008 Conduit Records), was inspired by the work of R. Buckminster Fuller. With this latest compilation, Jason Goessl (composer and guitarist), along with Phil Cali (bass) and Brian Oppel (drums), embraces the idea of doing more and more with less and less by distilling his encyclopedic range of musical ambition down to distinct melodic and rhythmic themes that retain their essence while transforming themselves over and over again.
New Model is heavier than the trio’s first release, though the spacious, echoing melody of the opening track, “Last Page” doesn’t immediately give that away. “Traveled Earth” follows, beginning with a ominous half time groove, giving way to surf-country tones that step the pace up to a trot. The throttle is then pushed all the way down and the song feels like a race to the edge of Earth that ends in a leap into darkness, returning briefly to the heroic sound of the opening. The third track, “Galieo’s”, possesses otherworldly characteristics with hints of Eastern Indian tonalities and a continual layering of sounds that creates an undeniable celestial potency. The piece is bookended with sophisticated counterpoint between the guitar and bass melodies, and the adept, variegated drumming.
The second half of this six song album is a continued showcase of the trio’s deep well of musical chops and their affinity for delivering the unexpected. “Where In There” is a syncopated, multi-metered piece laden with intensely intricate drumming and melodic space that continues the heavy thread of the preceding track. “Chronofile” begins with a barrage of percussion and noise, like mainline winds tearing through a mile long alley of aluminum trash cans, and then falls into a slow march with the first distorted guitar chord. The piece takes the somber melodic theme and pushes it through different meters, each one progressively faster, then follows the continuum back down to the original pace. “Fullerene” provides the last word of the album. Spanish flavored guitar begets a sudden ten second storm of rhythm and melody that settles into a steady groove, again rooted firmly by Cali and Oppel. The group then embarks on a lengthy exploration of the melody, applying various cadences and sonic qualities, ending with a revisit of the Spanish flavoring giving the listener a moment to breathe.
On the digital version of New Model, the listener is served up a bonus track. This track, “Seven”, pummels the listener from the onset and never lets ups with overdriven, distorted guitar and crunching breaks. The song takes on more and more momentum, flirting with imploding upon itself, with Oppel and Cali simultaneously contributing to, and tethering the ensued chaos.
One of Fuller’s well known inventions is the Dymaxion map - a projection of a world map onto the surface of an icosahedron (a polyhedron with 20 identical equilateral triangle faces), which could be unfolded and flattened to two dimensions creating an image of the world’s continents as a nearly contiguous land mass. Through the combined synergy of Goessl, Cali, and Oppel and the arc of these compositions, Trimtab becomes one of those equilateral triangles - multiplied over and over, joining together and forming new surfaces and redefining the musical landscape. New Model, a through-composed album, takes the shape of one contiguous sonic body. The album revolves around itself, each song resolving into the next, no true end and no true beginning. When you think it can’t go farther it does, subsequently changing the trajectory of music as we know it.