Release Date: May 30, 2011
Record label: Blood & Biscuits
Better late than never, eh? Originally, this was going to be a review of Noise Trade, the forthcoming single from London trio Three Trapped Tigers, however, on finding out that No Ripcord was without a review for the band’s debut album, despite it coming out two months ago, that seemed like a bigger priority (besides, when the B-Sides to a single are just a different edit and a remix, it’s not really worth talking about). ‘Priority’ might seem like a rather overly important term to use when discussing an album review, especially one for yet another post-rock/electronica inspired act, but somehow it seems entirely justified in Three Trapped Tigers’ case as after releasing three EPs of bonkers, frenetic and slightly alien math rock they’ve gone and recorded what might be one of the best debuts by a British act in years (its absence from this year’s Mercury Music Prize shortlist is both incredibly disappointing and completely unsurprising). There may be some points of comparison – Battles have been name-checked in numerous reviews, and it would be true to say that both acts do share a common interest in utilising their musical ability to create something primal and thrilling (simultaneously as complex as the wanky solos that populate prog and metal and as far removed in terms of effect) and a drummer noisily abusing his kit in an effort to keep up with the frantic time signatures – but it doesn’t seem wholly satisfying, Three Trapped Tigers being both a lot more rough around the edges and more consistent than their New York counterparts.
Bear with us on this one, but if you just want to skip to the end then here’s a summary: [b]‘Route One Or Die’[/b] is great, it’s a strong 8/10 and it deserves your love. And now, back to the context. Back in the ’90s, while techno and Euro house colonised mainstream dancefloors after the critical boom of Madchester’s rave scene, something that became known as IDM – intelligent dance music – sprang up to offer an outlet for people who didn’t want to listen to music made either by urchins with guitars or gurning Ibiza casualties.
Three Trapped Tigers have been Drowned in Sound favourites for some time now, so for some of you Route One or Die, their debut album, will no doubt be met with eager anticipation. Preceded by three excellent untitled EPs, which elegantly managed to convey alternating senses of beauty, emotion and menace in a mostly instrumental set-up, they have already left themselves a very impressive legacy for this record to live up to. Recorded mostly live by the three-piece, who are proudly averse to overdubs, backing tracks and studio fix-ups, the album is a textured, varied affair that, when listened to from start to finish, has the feel of one continuous piece with contrasting, schizophrenic movements.
A tremendously adventurous, genre-smashing debut from the London trio. Luke Slater 2011 Those familiar with their three EPs to date have already come to expect big things from Three Trapped Tigers. At times those early releases were too scatterbrained for their own good, but what their debut full-length, Route One or Die, presents is a cohesive and compelling collection from the off, and one with unabated and unwavering focus.