Troum – Mare Morphosis CD Transgredient Records 2013
Expectations relating to any project’s artistic output can be an interesting thing. On one hand you might think you have a handle on what a project is about and what a new album may encompass, yet there are also those who manage to transcend such expectations which is clearly to their credit. So enter Troum, an act I have listened to sporadically over the years, without necessarily checking out every new release. Yet if asked to categorise their sound, I would have said with some degree of certainty that they produce ethereal ambient drone music with a focus on hypnotic trance like soundscapes. So then enter ‘Mare Morphosis’, Troum’s new album, which functions to completely shatter this perception. Whilst base elements adhere to a transcendent ambient drone framework, these however have been substantially augmented with composed sub-orchestral elements and even a strong influence from post-rock music (throughout certain album passages).
The single album length composition commences with a structure of ethereal drones(mid paced minor keyed loops, interlinking in various patterns), which then sees the introduction of a lone maudlin violin melody. Yet the biggest surprise is when without warning the track breaks out with full post rock rhythm section (drumming and bass guitar), as the transcendent mood swells in cyclic fashion with the accompanying drones and rousing violin phrase. From here and with a structure of slow metamorphosis, the track gradually moves through a number of subdued droning passages (which reduce to a minimalistic structure), before building and elevating again, repeating over a number of cycles. Through one of these mid album segments the use of kit drumming returns, but here it is in more of a free-form and loose failing style, offset with a loose almost Middle Eastern style harmony. Likewise the end passage is a stunning example of transcendent swelling harmonic drone ambient which still maintains a partial post-rock sensibility in tone, despite not being driven by any drum/ bass backing (…think Eluvium for suitable reference).
In terms of the overall arc of the album its builds to a number of crescendos through the early and mid-phases of the album, before gradually cycling down towards the end over an overall 51 minute expanse. Given the single track format ‘Mare Morphosis’ presents a bit of an ‘all or nothing’ proposition, by requiring the album to be appreciated in a single span, which could potentially be frustrating if wanting to forward to a particular segment of the album. Yet minor formatting issues aside, by sidestepping all preconceptions, ‘Mare Morphosis’ delivers a complex, animated and fully engaging drone work, one which is far more than incidental background music. Given this album demands focus and attention, it also sees Troum seamlessly incorporating musical influences from outside the regular frame of reference for this type of material. A rewarding listen.