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CD Feature/ Troum: "AIWS"

img  Tobias

The success of Troum goes against the grain of the music business. No obvious genre affiliation, an introspect group image, strong ties with hand-made packaging, physical media and acoustic instruments as well as a philosophy aimed at the unconsciousness: Among the many projects operating on the experimetal side of sound, Troum are among the most timeless. Their releases are therefore usually not greeted with trumpets but with a soft kind of enthusiasm – you can either pick them up right away in an excited rush or wait for the right moment to come.

“AIWS” (both an abbreviation for “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome” and the gothic term for eternity) may be a slightly different case. After all, four years have passed since the last “pure” Troum studio album “Tjukurrpa”, the third part of their journey into dreamtime and Aborigonal culture. And yet, these tracks are not the most recent ones recorded by band members Glit(s)ch and Baraka[H]. Instead, they comprise material from the time between 2002 and 2005, a phase of great activity followed by a period of re-releases and sampler contributions. But the years of maturation have  been well spent.

For one can not regard this music as a mere collection of single pieces. Just like “To a Child dancng in the Wind”, in which two long-drawn compositions formed a bracket around a remarkably concise core, “AIWS” is a carefully designed journey, which wants to be appreciated from the beginning to the end. This is especially true, as Troum’s sounds need some time to percolate into the mind to create the desired hypnagogic state. On the surface of things, these tracks are anything but spectacular. But then again, this band is anything but interested in events on the surface. 

Rather, the album circles particular sensations, deepens them, caresses their synapses softly but continously, until the original meaning has disappeared and made way for a more lucid kind of aperception, in which fore- and background can be exchanged, lead motives and side themes are one and the same and instruments turn into voices and vice versa. Ostinato phrases on guitars, e-bow and bass are central to the musical development, as discreet, yet delirious drones, plumes of distortion and reverb follow in their slipstream. Repetition is not an aesthetic means here, nor is it strictly used as a tool to reach a trance or hypnosis. Instead, with its subtle variations, it should be seen as a non-concrete rhythmic impulse, which just as with minimal music, locks the body and offers the brain the chance to focus on adjacent aspects.

Quite a lot of the music, heavily influenced by the use of Sufi Songs, appears to be breathing. This is naturally true for “[GA] Plaian” with its billowing and deflating sheets of sound or for the unreal Accordion fantasy “Penthos”. But it is also apprent in the ten-minute long opener “Ahmateins”, built on rippled acoustic guitar chords, vinyl crackles, choral harmonics and a deep string theme. In this piece especially, Troum demonstrate their ability to take a simple melody and turn it into an emotionally resounding hymn.

The “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome” describes a disorder in which someone perceives objects both as much smaller than their actual size and yet as very close. The eyes of the affected are actually seeing the same as everyone else's, but the brain gets confused and creates some weird connections. With Troum, this state replaces the physical world around us as if it were the most natural thing in the world – just like the Aborigenees believe that dreams are our true reality. It is another surprising aspect of their success, that so many people are willing to follow them into regions which could potentially be regarded as confusing and frightening. 

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Troum
Homepage: Drone Records/Transgredient Records


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