Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Arts & Crafts
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
If one were ever to envisage a space-time mapping of music — its many styles, genres, and subgenres — the Toronto-based pair who call themselves Trust would be somewhere between a sleeker, less grunge-influenced, more dance-able remix of KMFDM’s “Bargeld” and Front Line Assembly’s Tactical Neural Implant, with arguable traces of Lust-era Lords of Acid and Front 242’s “F-U-C-K” albums. Or, in more concisely descriptive terms, between the defiant (and perhaps naïvely oblivious) dance pop-leaning “industrial” that was briefly “in vogue” in the early 90s and the so-called “futurepop” of the late 90s: essentially a then somewhat fringe, marginalized quasi-pop form of post-industrial EBM and gothic synth pop of which acts such as VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk were the vanguard. Fortunately, like other recent goth-inspired acts (Blouse, even Grimes), while the execution is near-flawless for what it’s worth, the source material is also transcended: Trust’s debut album, TRST, is a near tour-de-force masterwork of 90s-style industrial dance that also manages to sound remarkably fresh and novel, perhaps in part because of indie music’s ambivalence to the goth and industrial genres.
TrustTRST[Arts & Crafts; 2012]By Josh Becker; February 29, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetOh look, another quasi-mysterious “darkwave” duo. This one’s called Trust, and its members — Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski — hail from Toronto. On first glance, their debut album TRST seems to tell you everything you already knew: artful misspelling of the title, vintage photograph of a vaguely goth girl, a mysterious lack of text or other identifying information.
It's quite an impressive feat to combine goth rock with trance pop and still keep all your cool points, but that's exactly what Toronto's Trust have managed to pull off with their debut full-length. Those of us who've been watching them mature as a live act over the past couple of years can't help but feel relieved that they've managed to capture all that quirky onstage energy and drama on record. When hipster acts reference goth, there's always the risk that it'll be taken as ironic, and who wants to be known as a joke band? In Trust's case, you get no sense that frontman Robert Alfons is winking at us when he prances around in a cape, yet it's equally clear that Trust's sound is too contemporary and worldly to fit in smoothly with the bat cave scene.
Those averse to brooding skulk rock shouldn't let the album art put them off; the bloated Goth on the cover of TRST is probably a bit too misleading. The music contained within belongs less in a candlelit cathedral than it does on a pulsing dance floor, sounding more in line with a dark, haunted Cut Copy than Bauhaus or The Sisters of Mercy. Full of deep, electronic instrumental washes and thumping digital drums, the world Trust's songs inhabit is a futuristic urban sprawl of wet pavement and neon lights, displaying an ultramodern glamour while hinting at a seedy underside.
When looking at what we know about Trust, the electro-goth duo of Robert Alfons and Austra's Maya Postepski, the comparisons to Crystal Castles aren't just obvious, they beg to be highlighted. Both groups are from Toronto, both are press-averse man-woman duos, and both draw from nasty-sounding synthesizers and the 1980's for musical inspiration. Just as Crystal Castles have found themselves at the middle of fair-use controversies, Trust could be accused of copying the copiers themselves: Last year's single on Sacred Bones, "Bulbform", reappears on the duo's debut LP, TRST, and its trance-y backing melody bears more than a passing resemblance to "Baptism", the five-alarm steamroller of a tune featured on Crystal Castles' second self-titled album from 2010.
Slouching out of Toronto’s shadows comes Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski (also of Austra), solemnly bearing the sort of gloomy synthpop that’ll make you want to smoke cigarettes, rim your eyes with kohl and dance jerkily in the dark basement of a Berlin warehouse. While ‘Bulbform’ might sound a little like late-night Crystal Castles, the pulsing sensuality of tracks like ‘The Last Dregs’ and the shimmering ‘Chrissy E’ ensure that they carve out a space of their own. Cool kids Trust never want to be seen to be trying too hard, but finale ‘Sulk’ is where it all comes together, like Chromatics with an evil glint in their eye.
Whilst playing Trust’s musical début a myriad of mysterious mirages materialised from those netherworldly magical boxes dubbed “The speakers”. Yet one phantasmagoric illusion lingered longest and strongest. It beheld the mystic shape of the illustrious Count Von Count from Sesame Street. In some freak mishap, it appeared Von Count was inadvertently placed into suspended animation “Walt Disney-stylee” and secretly buried deep beneath layers of “Fraggle” Rock in preservation for future generations.
One third of Toronto darkwave trio Austra (whose debut Feel it Break was one of the more solid debuts to come out last year), Maya Postepski is back with another equally impressive debut, this time as half of Trust, another similarly gloomy, Toronto-based synth-pop outfit. Joined on vocals and co-production duties by Robert Alfons, the pair earned a couple of large-scale opening gigs with DFA1979 and Crystal Castles, months before TRST even had a release date, based mostly on the strength of their raucous live performances. While Trust’s music bears a strong resemblance to Postepski’s downcast dance groove for Austra, Alfons’ pallid vocal bleats and the frigid synth lines that mark TRST make for considerably colder, more consistently engaging fare.
Torontonians: Why so gloomy? It can't all be socially awkward, generally hated, recently elected mayor Rob Ford's fault, can it? And those so-called Canadian winters are getting warmer by the minute, so stop blaming the snow. Yet, from Crystal Castles' affected poses and digitalized screeches to Austra's gothic pop and operatic maneuvers, it seems the electronic music produced in the metropolis in the past half-decade has been pulling a darker string than other Canadians cities (especially compared—just to give two paradigmatic examples—to Turbo's Montreal or Wagon Repair's Vancouver). Even Art Department's languor gives the impression it emanates from the humid, barely lit corners of an underground basement dance floor.
Katie Stelmanis shopped her classically trained pipes around the Toronto scene for a good half-decade before Austra brought her to people's attention. Maya Postepski deserves some credit for this, as it took a certain amount of musical theatricality to properly deliver such an ostentatious voice. Postepski transports the same sense of drama and ardour to TRST, the debut album from her project: Trust.