Today is the official U.S. release date for The Golden Years (Staubgold), the first new album in eight long years by Viennese trio Trapist—aka drummer Martin Brandlmayr, also of Radian, one of the most distinctive and inventive percussionists on the planet; guitarist Martin Siewert, a top-flight improviser and ambient artist who recently replaced Stefan Nemeth in Radian; and jazz bassist Joe Williamson, a Vancouver native who lives in Stockholm. The group's second album, Ballroom, released by Thrill Jockey in 2004, remains one of my all-time favorites, and though I haven't listened to the new one enough to declare it equally great, I do feel comfortable saying it's excellent.
Like Trapist's previous recordings, The Golden Years is largely ambient and atmospheric, but that doesn't necessarily mean sedate; sometimes, as on "Pisa," the music erupts with sudden violence that just as quickly ebbs. Siewert shapes long, achingly beautiful lines that suggest the wide-open spaces of the American southwest, and Williamson stoically traces each song's form, adding warm, subtle ad libs. Meanwhile Brandlmayr delivers his characteristically fractured beats—he holds down a rigorously steady pulse, but within that regular throb are all sorts of shattered patterns, deft drum-surface scraping, and noisy friction. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is the album opener, "The Gun That's Hanging on the Kitchen Wall."
Trapist, "The Gun That's Hanging on the Kitchen Wall"