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Trioscapes expand boundaries with second album

by Ryan Snyder

| ryan@yesweekly.com | @YESRyan

“Digital Dream Sequence”, the title track off of Trioscapes’ recently completed second album, is a fit successor to the Greensboro fusion trio’s debut, if only because it creates an illusion of chaos. It begins with a breakneck chromatic sprint by bassist Dan Briggs that leads up and down the neck. He’s fast “” so much so that his notes blur into rhythm and lead guitar at once. Texturally, he’s mirrored by Walter Fancourt, whose saxophone lashings fillet the tensions integral to the jazz structures for which he’s most accustomed right from the top. The engine pushing it is drummer Matt Lynch, a meticulous, punishing timekeeper who holds the piece to an exacting timetable.

When the band performed it at Legitimate Business late Saturday night, it pushed toward a clear climax. The opening stanza of combat jazz dissolved into a billowing cloud of delay-fed noise that burst right on cue into a hard groove which in turn melted into idiosyncratically smooth saxophone. Fancourt describes the piece as moving “like yellow turning into red,” and with symmetry that undermines the potential for stylistic conflicts that made Trioscapes an appealing pursuit for its members just under three years ago.

“We all come from different worlds,” Fancourt said while sipping a beer at College Hill, one of his regular haunts before relocating to Brooklyn with most of his mates in the Brand New Life. It was two days after the Legitimate Business show, which also signaled the conclusion of a two-week tour following the album’s completion at that same venue. “The world I come from is all about eye contact. (Matt and Dan) come of rock and metal, and a lot of classical training.”

The impression of rampant improv in their set was largely purposeful, if mostly due to a dynamic that was still taking shape during their debut. On 2012’s Separate Realities, there was a method to their Mahavishnu Orchestra-inspired madness that Fancourt says might have been too managed, if only because the intra-band chemistry that birthed the album’s title had not yet been completely solved. It was an experiment, but one in which heavy music benefactors Metal Blade Records saw great potential.

“We just didn’t know what we sounded like,” Fancourt said. “We had hardly played together at all together when we first recorded it.”

For a label whose standard has long been carried by extreme death metal antagonists Cannibal Corpse, Trioscapes immediately presented an entry into new, highly unexpected territory. When Separate Realities was released, it almost shockingly debuted at number nine on the Billboard Traditional Jazz chart, and number 12 for Current Jazz, the label’s first ever entry into either. (It also debuted at number two on the iTunes Jazz chart, but somehow as a Chris Botti release.)

The new, overarching aesthetic on Digital Dream Sequence, however, is management of the macro, rather than the micro. It will be exceedingly difficult to classify it as jazz, just as the first strayed from the path Briggs had set as bassist for Between the Buried and Me. The intention was to create space for one another to fill, rather than fierce phrases to provoke “” to take up more space with fewer notes “” but its members are still trying to discern and absorb intent as it occurs.

“I wish I could detach myself,” Briggs said shortly after their homecoming set. “I’d like to have a little astral projection during our set so I could really take in what all [Walter’s] doing live.”

On one hand, Briggs’ world as bassist for Between the Buried and Me is dominated by structure. Even the solos that frequently occur amidst their 20-minute long prog opuses are almost entirely composed. In that realm, it’s common for Briggs’ listeners to study his and his bandmates’ methodology with an almost academic rigor. In Trioscapes’ vision for Digital Dream Sequence, which is due out this fall, there are opportunities to be lost amidst the periods of cascading noise and unbridled sonic aggression. !

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