We were midway through our week of live reviews, in 7 days, we saw, reviewed and photographed 14 bands, quite a feat I’m sure you’ll agree! On March 19th, we were invited along to the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre as part of their 'Vibraphonic Music Festival' to check out a London 3 piece who mutate in a visceral mash-up of rock, jazz and dance music, influenced by the eclectic works of Aphex Twin, Tim Berne and Flying Lotus to name just 3.
Opening up proceedings were The Azimuth Coordinator, now, go look them up on Wikipedia and you will be told that the Azimuth Coordinator was the first panning control for a quadraphonic sound system, at that time a new concept with Pink Floyd being the first band to use it in their early shows. Alas, we weren’t sat looking at a box of electronic gadgetry on the stage, instead a 4 piece Exeter based band of the same name. They describe themselves as ‘heavy original instrumental prog rock with elements of spacerock, punk, grunge, thrash/death/black metal and psychedelia’, which I would say summed them up beautifully!
I found this band to be fascinating, they blended all of the above genres effortlessly, ranging from quite light, guitar led melodies to all out death metal which wouldn’t have been out of place had you placed a bearded Swedish singer on the stage to growl into a microphone to complete the look.
They certainly experiment whilst on stage, not that this appeared hap-hazard or disjointed in any way whatsoever, it was more ‘flowing’ than I had anticipated which allowed their music, although heavily influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath, Gong & Hawkwind to take on a style of its own which was refreshing to see.
They played 6 tracks in all and although having to cut their last track short to ensure that they didn’t over-run, their set was varied, excellently executed and left me wanting to seek out more material by them. I did exactly this when I wandered into Rooster Records in Exeter the day after and picked up a CD which included a couple of the tracks that they had played at this gig.
If you fancy something a little different from the mainstream tosh being peddled so widely, check out The Azimuth Coordinator who are sure to be playing around the Exeter area sometime soon.
I was chatting to a lady in the bar area when Troyka launched into the title track from their latest album ‘Ornithophobia’, I figured that they were just completing their soundcheck and after a few minutes, I began to think otherwise, I sneaked in and found a seat on the balcony, leaving my photographer to sit on the front row in order to get some choice shots, they had indeed begun….
In 2014, Troyka were signed to the forward thinking NAIM jazz label where they released their latest album ‘Ornithaphobia’ in 2015, this being their 3rd studio album to date, produced by the seasoned Swedish musician Petter Eldh who has played bass alongside Django Bates and Marius Neset. We were treated to a copy of the album to have a listen to before the show and I must say that compared to their previous offerings, it offered more of an abstract mix of electronica, ambient and freeform jazz, all pulled together and gift wrapped with their trademark Troyka wrapping paper.
Their latest album ‘Ornithaphobia’ was first inspired by guitarist Chris' fear of birds which in turn escalated into an album set in a fictionalised London; a post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare in which people have contracted a form of avian flu that is slowly turning them into human-size birds and gradually making them lose their minds, as one does….
So back to their live set, their music really demanded 100% of your concentration, not because it was difficult to follow but more, you didn’t want to miss any of the sudden corners that they were driving you down, one minute you were listening to urgent finger picked guitar, the next, squealing keys followed by disconnected drums, all making sense when it came together.
Troyka played their own version of the blues which was definitely a new take on the classic style, they played ‘Rarebit’ which was lifted from their 2012 album ‘Moxxy’, they also played a new track, I think it was called ‘Race the Sun’ which they had been writing whilst on the road.
Troyka aren’t for everyone, obviously, a love of freeform prog jazz would be a good starting point but if you like a bit of experimentalism in your music, why not give them a go, you’ll thank me later….
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by www.241photography.co.uk