Image of Triosks instruments before the group take to the stage

Image of the group playing, instruments solid, group blurred.

Image of the drummer playing

Image of piano lid, blurred hands playing
Somnambule - Writing About Music


25 April 2005, The Premises, Hackney

Triosk are an Australian trio whose music is an attractive hybrid of jazz-based extemporisation and glitch-ey electronica. Their originality can in part be attributed to the group’s grounding in instrument-based improvisation where similar fusions are generally the product of laptop-based, archive sampling. Triosk’s music is stranger and less predictable than its direct counterparts, sounding as if Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight had been produced by Joe Meek. Tonight, they are playing in a rehearsal room in Hackney, East London. By way of introduction there’s a varied DJ set which concludes with Miles Davis’s Mademoiselle Mabry. The piece’s gentle pace and abstract form are mapped out, before Miles’ entrance at the three minute mark, in a remarkable presaging of Triosk’s approach more than 30 years later.

Dressed down and endearingly unassuming, Laurence Pike (drums), Adrian Klumpes (electric and acoustic pianos) and Ben Waples (bass) take to the stage. Crackling white noise emanates from the speakers behind the audience, a sign that the group’s performance is underway. Pike accompanies this sound with a precise, feverish patter of sticks on closed cymbal. Klumpes gradually builds layers of piano loops like swarms of lazy bees and Waples provides structural underpinning as the rhythm gathers momentum and begins to spit like a fire. Chronosynclastic Infundibula from their second and most recent release, Moment Returns, follows and is gently revelatory in its distance from the recorded version. Although it finishes a little too quickly, leaving a slight sense of perfunctoriness, its mood persists at the edge of memory.

Most of the music coheres out of an accrual of seemingly disparate elements: ringing, pianistic repetition, the urgent patter of scurrying percussion and the thrumming of upright or electric bass, all melding with the hiss and grate of frugal electronics. The three musicians create dense forms, while occasionally sounding as if they’re on separate, but related missions. They finish with I Am A Beautiful And Unique Snowflake in which the melody tiptoes in like a haiku blessing for a new day while a gritty glitch rhythm vies for attention. Gradually the intensity builds and the the group end up clinging to single notes as if they were the wreckage of a liferaft adrift on high seas. The vibrating kernel at the heart of many of Triosk’s compositions suggests that moment in movies when car headlamps blur into abstract halos against a dark backdrop. The meditativeness engendered by Triosk’s approach encourages you to close your eyes and there discover an echo of that image in the motes and pointillist shapes that move hazily against your own eyelids. Concentrated listening is rewarded with the sense of a slow-motion journey towards the sublime. There’s a generous humility to Triosk’s music and its yearning proximity to transcendence is original and moving.

Colin Buttimer
Published by Milkfactory