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Troum: "Eald-Ge-Streon"

img  Tobias

At face value, „Eald-Ge-Streon“ looks nothing like the darkly-beguiling Troum album one has come to expect. In fact, it would be easy to file it away as a motley and slightly bewildering collection of loose tracks: A Savage-Republic-cover here, a popular live track there and in between a surreal tribute to an unnamed „German Schlagerstar“ whom the Berlin-based duo „adore“. Listening closely, meanwhile, suggests a completely different interpretation – this is as recognisable, representative and thoroughly rewarding as anything the project have released over their ten-year long career.

It has always been essential to distinguish between Troum's colourful collaborations and their autarkic oeuvre. The former have yielded an epic back catalogue of anything but trivial constellations: „Ignis Sacer“ documented an encounter with now defunct Swiss Noise-aestheticists NID, while "Creatura Per Creaturam Continetur" saw them traveling to Moscow to celebrate the anniversary of underground pacesetters Reutoff with a set diving deep into Dark Ambient and Sound Art. „To a Child dancing in the Wind“, on the other hand, daringly combined some of their most bittersweet tracks with classical poetry and vocals by Eyeless in Gaza singer Martyn Bates. None of these („To a Child“, which famously required years to complete, especially) were rushed affairs, but in comparison to the increasingly sluggish cycle of the band's full-lengths, they all but seem like snapshots: Predecessor „AIWS“ was the result of a full three years of laborious studio surgery and two years of maturation. In the world of Troum, albums are still carefully crafted statements, held together by vision, spiritual themes and mood.

Perhaps this is where „Eald-Ge-Streon“ substantially stands out from the pack. There is neither an obvious narrative nor a trivial concept here and, other than their own, no expectations whatsoever to cater to. While Troum's contributions to a cornucopia of „Various Artists“ publications were always finely attuned to the underlying philosophy of the respective label, they worked exclusively for their own excitement on these pieces, following where their instincts would lead them. This ultimate freedom has resulted in a wide and unprecedented array of styles: String-ladden soundscapes, psychedelic Post Rock, elegiac Ambient, tribal Industrial and floating Drones – each track offers a surprise, a twist, an unexpected development. “Abhijna“, the sole recent composition and unfortunately only included on the bonus disc of the limited 2CD edition, begins as a quietly ringing streak of harmonics seemingly culled from church bells, which gradually grows into a cosmically roaring meteor shower of ferocious intensity. And yet as diverse as this set may be, it is clearly interconnected by the oscillation between silence and thunder, between weightless drift and rhythmical hypnosis.

Dedicating their full attention to each single piece has resulted in a string of showstoppers. There are no sidethemes or fillers here, everything is integral, incisive and indispensable for the overall impact of the album. „Elation“ is the kind of hallucinatory drone piece only Troum seem capable of coming up with, hinging on psychoacoustic chord changes and heavenly harmonics skimmed from the natural resonances of acoustic instruments. „Usque Sumus Lux“ floats on the wings of a distant drum loop and cymbal-like impulses for two minutes, before  deep bass vibrations kick in and a fantastical melody soars into a heaven twitching with fluorescent lightnings and ominous flashes. „Dhanu-h“ (aforementioned tribute track) sounds unapologetically melodious and romantic, precise and poignant in its pristine four and a half minute charme. The band counter the immanent danger of simple repetitions ending in the kind of unobtrusive, uneventful and ultimately unimpressive „atmospheres“ by frequently sending the music through timbral filters. As a result, it appears calm yet in constant flux, unperturbed yet insistent.

Core members "GlitH" and "Baraka[H]" have used words like „strange“ and „odd“ to try and define the tracks on the record. Unflattering terminology, maybe. But when they write „We still don't know really what this is“ in the booklet, then that may well indicate that they are truly still searching for a meaning within the complexities of their own music. Weren't Troum always about that, which can not be explained, can not be defined, can not be dissected? That, which needs to be experienced to be understood, touched to be appreciated? Weren't they always dealing with emotions in their most pure form, searching for „the direct way to the unconsciousness“? If they themselves can not describe the mechanisms behind „Eald-Ge-Streon“, that means they must have as close to accomplishing that mission as they always intended.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Troum
Homepage: Beta-Lactam-Ring Records

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