Album Review: T.R.A.M - 'Lingua Franca'

1 April 2012 | 2:37 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Beautiful instrumental metal-inspired jazz.

Jazz and metal have a closer affinity than a cursory inspection, or rather listen, would initially suggest. Are they stylistic descendants of one another? Well, perhaps that's a stretch, but they nevertheless share a lot of similar qualities when it comes to composition, tempo, use of dynamics, and overall metre changes. And it seems it has taken a group of competent metal, punk and alternative musicians to highlight just how close this link really is.

: two parts Animals As Leaders, one part Suicidal Tendencies and one part Mars Volta. An impressive combination.

There's a certain understated sophistication, without being pretentious, in this musical presentation. While, metal and punk is all about the black t shirts, mohawks and/or long hair. Jazz is about the suits, the glass of scotch and cavernous, dimly-lit swing joint, which serves as its ideal setting.

Tosin Abasi simply gets song construction and overall composition. And this is reflected on T.R.A.M's debut offering 'Lingua Franca'. But it's probably unfair to purely isolate him. The quartet come together to form fluent music. In sporting speak, we'd ask the question, do you want a team of champions or a champion team? Here, the listener gets both. Proficient musicians and equally articulate and well-rounded music.

Beginning with 'Seven Ways Till Sunday', the sound slowly plays itself out of the heavy stylings. The track is arguably jazz's version of 'djent'. 'Consider Yourself Judged' has a Billy Cobham feel to the intro and 'HAAS Kicker' is the decisive point, where an ambient, casual introduction transitions into an enjoyable display of instrumental jazz. The chord progressions, the drums grooves, it's simply spot on. 'Inverted Ballad' an effective sign-off too.

This is a welcome departure. A breath of fresh air, if not a change of pace. Let's face it, metal has its time and place, but sometimes you just need something chilled to break the pattern. 'Lingua Franca' is just that, in its humble six track form.

'Lingua Franca' is sure to be under-appreciated and its charm is most likely going to go over-the-top of most metal and punk purists heads. But, for the discernible listener this is a brilliantly concise and considered album. Who said jazz couldn't thrive within a metal domain?

1. Seven Ways Till Sunday
2. Consider Yourself Judged
3. Endeavor
4. HAAS Kicker
5. Hollywood Swinging
6. Inverted Ballad