The Discordian Trio: Hazlos Manzanos (2013)
The Discordian Trio formed in Edinburgh in 2008. releasing its eponymous debut on Fabrikant Records the same year. Hazlos Manzanos is the band's third album, a varied and fascinating collection with an eccentric edge. The album title refers to recording engineer Manzano Linares: a well-deserved accolade, for Linares has done a fine job in capturing the band's sound.
The band refers to its instrumentation as "the power-trio format" but this particular guitar, bass and drums trio shows little tendency to rock out or indulge in the macho posturing that is often associated with the format. Indeed, the photo of the band members smiling cheerfully at a sheep, which adorns the album's inside cover, is about as far from macho posturing as is possible. Instead, the Discordian Trio mixes free form experimentation, jazz fusion and '70s prog rock influences. The result is a set of tunes, written, by guitarist Jack Weir or electric bassist Craig Mcfadyen, that encompasses the slightly odd, the intense and moody, and the gently beautiful.
Many contemporary bands seem to give titles to their compositions simply to avoid naming them "Tune 1," "Tune 2," "Tune 3" and so on. On the evidence displayed here the Discordian Trio takes the name game far more seriouslythe visual images conjured up by many of the song titles are matched by the images suggested by the music itself. Hence Macfadyen's "Goggly Gogol" has the slightly crazed freeform feel its title suggeststhe weirdness heightened by Pete Furniss' bass clarinetand Weir's "The Shuffler's Puppet" is an intense, dark, reminder that someone strange may be pulling the strings.
The band isn't averse to a spot of improvisation but its strength is more readily found in its ability to craft intriguing melodies. They're not all dark or weird. The lovely "I Have No Great Idea" and "The Bewildered Herd" glide along gracefully, Weir's flowing, single- note guitar lines underpinned by Macfadyen and drummer Richard Kass' sympathetically understated playing. Weir's "Dwarkish Intentions" is another showcase for his gently romantic playing until its short, heavy rock-style closing section. "The Dream Circean" is more enigmatic, a peaceful opening sequencewith Furniss' bass clarinet much more welcoming in tone than it had been on "Goggly Gogol"giving way to a more nightmarish phase before returning to the tranquility of its opening section.
Nothing on Hazlos Manzanos hints at the Discordian Trio's city of origin this is music that has arisen from the synthesis of truly international influences. It is, however, an album that can be readily located in time, for the trio has taken these influences and used them to create a genuinely contemporary album.
Track Listing: Nothing Unknown; Goggly Gogol; The Shuffler's Puppet; I Have No Great Idea; The Bewildered Herd; The Dream Circean; Dwarkish Intensions.
Personnel: Jack Weir: guitar; Craig Macfadyen: bass; Richard Kass: drums; Pete Furniss: bass clarinet (2, 6).
Record Label: Self Produced