A Troop Of Echoes

Days In Automation

Written by: DR on 12/09/2011 17:06:49

Having to revert back to 2010 for a promo can be annoying, at least as far as I'm concerned, but the debut album from A Troop Of Echoes, released well over a year ago, is an interesting proposition and one I don't actually mind going back for.

After a slow-rising beginning to opening track, "Hollywood Red", intricate guitar-patterns are looped and weaved around a groovy bass-line; at this point you're thinking that "Days In Automation" is going to be an instrumental rock effort, given how those opening moments play close to bands like And So I Watch You From Afar and Don Caballero - and, in a way, you'd be right. A Troop Of Echoes are an instrumental rock band, but at the same time, their picture is bigger than that.

It's only about twenty-seconds after "Hollywood Red" kicks in that you're presented with what A Troop Of Echoes are hoping will set them apart: a saxophone. I can't give a review of this album without mentioning that, their unique selling point, however, part of this record's charm is how when I first heard it, it was so jarring and unexpected that it caught me completely off-guard. I still haven't got over that feeling, yet. This is because while I'm trying to figure out what a saxophone is doing interupting the flow of songs like "Hollywood Red" and "Little Bird", it seems the band themselves are also trying to figure out that much, too. At times it feels like the band has built their sound around the saxophone, hoping that'll be enough to keep the listener engaged. They haven't quite worked out how to fit it into the instrumental rock soundscapes consistently over the course of an album, though. There are those efforts when their sound is cluttered, when the layers of free-flowing instrumentation is seemingly little more than an opportunity for the band to flaunt their instrumental wizardry. Sure, "Providence Public Defender" is a startling showcase of technical ability, but as a listener, there is so much going on that it's actually uncomfortable to sit through.

A Troop Of Echoes are not without potential, though. The flip side to that is, when A Troop Of Echoes do get it right, they get ohh so right. "Golden Gears" is an instrumental powerhouse, in which the saxophone doesn't use the other instruments as a jumping off point for its own individual imagery, but to contribute to overall composition, even though it means being used more sparingly than in other songs. Eight-minute epic "New Breath" gives enough breath to the other instruments, which makes the song-writing overall feel more focused, and closer "Ascenders" is a refreshing change of pace, having more in common with the silky qualities of smooth jazz than rock music.

In conclusion, "Days In Automation" is an odd record to listen through because you're never quite sure where you sit with it. Even after multiple listens, I still find some of the saxophone-dominated compositions jarring and occasionally unnerving, but I still listen in that 'I can't not look' type of way. To have that kind of hold over the listener, even at their worst, is a rare trait. Nonetheless, at their best, when they look to have figured themselves, each other, and their sound out, "Days In Automation" makes bold promises about A Troop Of Echoes' future.

7

Download: Golden Gears, New Breath, Ascenders
For The Fans of: And So I Watch You From Afar, Don Caballero, Airpeople
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 22.06.2010
Oak Apple Records

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