Triosk: Free of the boundaries
Stepping into the studio last year to record their third album, Triosk’s objective was to create a series of tracks that captured the spontaneous, unprocessed quality of their live electronic jazz sound. The product, The Headlight Serenade, features 11 pieces of music largely crafted and distilled from recordings of their own improvised live performances. Armed with this new material of mostly song length tracks, Triosk recently embarked on an Australian tour, and in true improvisational style, let the moment completely unravel, disjoin and sew up again these recorded moments.
This interview previews a moment in time that I spent talking Triosk and music with Adrian Klumpes, the long limbed and rather pleasant individual who orchestrates piano, Rhodes, synths and samplers for the trio. In addition to Triosk, Klumpes is a quarter of the band Pivot and, in this last year, also recorded the solo album, ‘Be Still’, set to-be-released later this year.
Watching Klumpes on stage is as much a visual experience as it is audio. His intense engagement reels you in to the experience. Klumpes confirms he may not be all there. “I’ll quite often finish and have to ask someone what it sounded like because I’ll have literally no idea what the end result was because I’m so focused on what I’m doing.”
This level of intensity doesn’t necessarily stop when he steps off stage. “I guess I’m a pretty intense kind of person especially musically if I’m really on fire about something; whether it’s in the moment in a performance or if it’s something I’m working on in a recording or composing something, I’m just completely focused on it… even if I’m not actually in the act of doing it and it’s going on in my brain, people speak to me and I won’t even hear what they say.”
Not surprisingly, the improvisational musician reveals that he doesn’t really think in songs. “There’s something really different to how I go about it.” With Triosk there are “a couple of tracks on the album more like songs because they have section a and section b, for example, but that’s usually as structured as we get. We never really work on particular structures, as such, that is usually something that evolves in the studio or in improvised land.”
The tracks on The Headlight Serenade are more like “particular moments in something that we do – sometimes it is ready set go, let’s see what happens, other times, it is well, this piece is going to go for six minutes and we are going to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again and just see how we develop it.”
As a group of improv musicians, Triosk’s sound is compared to the likes of Tortoise, Necks and The Cinematic Orchestra; however, this isn’t something Triosk are thinking about when they approach music. “In a way we’re kinda mimicking ourselves to make ourselves better, than kind of taking other influences directly…When we’re writing and when we’re playing we’re not thinking who we sound like or where we’ve nicked ideas from, we’ve just been doing.”
“The Necks is a very easy one (comparison to draw) because they are piano based and drums as well; However, a key difference is we use electronics and we do structure our pieces before we start rather than, here’s an hour of something we’re going to milk it and till we’re done. It’s a compositional difference.”
However, Triosk are not guaranteed to play structured pieces during their live shows. As Klumpes’ says, “the live show is quite different to how we record, and I think that appreciation of the difference between working in the studio and working on stage really helps us define who we are and also helps other people define who we are.”
“We might improvise completely new things. If you feel an idea you keep going with it and you’‘ll let that idea interact with other members of the band or the electronics… or I might stop playing the piano and then do some different electronic stuff because of what I’m hearing from the drums, from Laurence, for example. We want the music to be as exciting for us as the audience. I think if we are giving something to the moment then the audience will really experience that.”
And this audience is global, just one of the advantages of being signed to the overseas indie label Leaf. “Organising a tour from here is much easier and we’re not just stabbing in the dark. There’s a certain network that we automatically belong to in Europe in the UK and in the US. So, I guess the biggest advantage (of Leaf) is having international publicity and opportunities internationally for playing, and really that’s why we do it – who in Australia wouldn’t?”
While Triosk may live to play, Klumpes can’t play to live…yet. “Making a living, for me anyway, is separate to achieving my goals. One of my goals in music is to not make money out of it, it’s to do what I want to do and to make sure whatever I’m doing is what I’m absorbed in and I’m not selling out in anyway. I’m doing what I envisage artistically. With that kind of attitude I guess I will wait five years before I decide whether that’s going to be viable. So yeah, I do other things to pay the bills.”
In the music business, improvisational music has always been hard to sell commercially and, as Klumpes says, “it always will be because of the experimental nature of it. I don’t think anyone was expecting this kind of record from Triosk, so that means it’s very unreliable. If this latest album is something which wasn’t expected that means they’re (the listeners) not necessary going to engage the next time around because they won’t be expecting anything.”
But Klumpes’ reaffirms, “making a living aspect of making music is not something I sweat about. At all.” Klumpes’ goal is to just keep making interesting music. “As long as new stuff keeps coming and we’re excited about it and it’s experimental the future’s endless and the more recognition we get for what we’re doing the more enticing it is to try and organise more tours and more tours, and then actually making money a few years down the track might be an option.”
A dreamy quality enters Klumpes’ voice and he starts to trail off, finally he says, “I can’t really think of anything else. This is my last one for the afternoon, so, as I said before, I’m just a bit…
“talked out” I offer…
“I’ve forgotten what the question was!”
I bid my farewell recalling what Klumpes said about being completely absorbed in the music.
Triosk’s brand new album The Headlight Serenade is out now through Lead/Inertia.