‘Trio’ Review: Dutch Progressive Rock Page
8th June 2013
Everyone that has read the interview we published with Rhys Marsh last October might remember him saying “It’s all music, all the time”. And that is the truth because after releasing his third solo album, The Blue Hour, last October he also found time to work with Silje Leirvik and Trude Eidtang (When Mary) on their debut albums. Soon his record label Autumn Songs will release of the debut album from a doom prog band from Norway called Mater Thallium and if that wasn’t enough he has also released his own, fourth, album called Trio.
This double album is more or less a live in the studio recording and it aims to capture the spirit of the live performances of Rhys and his band. After the release of his third solo album, Marsh wanted to perform the songs from his first three albums live. But of course, in good Marsh fashion, he didn’t want to reproduce the albums on stage so for the live shows the band only compromised Marsh with Anders Bjermeland on drums and vocals and Ole Kristian Malmedal on electric piano and vocals. Both are members of psychedelic band Flashback Caruso. The songs were reinterpreted with more room to expand and improvise, the three musicians enjoying these live performances so much that they decided to release these new versions so after just two days in the studio these new versions of Rhys Marsh’s songs can be enjoyed by everyone.
Now you might know that Trio was a track on King Crimson’s brilliant Red album. That track showed what a beautiful noise you can create with only three musicians. And that is exactly what these musicians do on this album. Trioconsists of seven tracks which are taken from previous releases plus one new instrumental called Watch the Sky Fall.
Right from the start it becomes apparent that this is going to be a thrilling ride as Wooden Heart gets an extended treatment with its jazzy ending that slowly builds to a crescendo where Marsh’s guitar sounds raw and the vocal really has to stretch to the limit. In the second track, I Watched as You Disappeared, another thing becomes apparent. Bjermeland and Malmedal are not only great musicians but they also provide some beautiful harmony vocals. Listen for example to the start of All Lights Fade which is just electric piano and the three members singing. There is a also a beautiful piano solo to be heard. It’s a mesmerising version of a track that was already very beautiful on Marsh’s debut album. Three of the tracks here are over the 10 minute mark, And I wait being the longest at 13 minutes and almost twice as long as the version on The Blue Hour. Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist) plays a beautiful flute solo here and despite the fact that the music never gets very loud the album still manages to sound very powerful. The 10 minute Watch the Sky Fall is a krautrock inspired improv piece, again featuring Einarsen on flute.
On Marsh’s last album brass instruments took centre stage but they are not missed at all on Trio as this version ofThe Place where You Lay proves. It stays reasonably close to the original but instead of the brass the three part vocal harmonies shine and this version is again proof of Marsh’s great songwriting skills.
They finish the album with a epic performance of The Movement of Our Last Farewell which on The Blue Hour ran for just 2.24 minutes but here it is expanded to more than 11 minutes! In this version Marsh plays a long guitar solo followed by Malmedal on electric piano and Bjermeland holding it all together with his jazzy drumming. There really is some good synergy to be heard here.
Now I must say that I was very much surprised by this release. On Trio these guys sound very powerful despite the limited use of instruments and the songs all get a total make-over which makes it sound like you are listening to a entirely new album. The three part harmony vocals are especially impressive and I would really like to hear this band on an album with new Marsh songs. Maybe just for me they could re-introduce the Mellotron into the sound palette again but with Rhys Marsh you never know what will be next.