So what is a "Fact Finding Mission"? It might be a pretty dull trip to gather data; it may be a euphemism for something a little more sordid. If it's being undertaken by Australian piano trio Trichotomy, then it's a whole heap of musical fun, for this particular Fact Finding Mission
is the band's fifth album: a positive, imaginative and surprising collection.
Trichotomy has been together since 1999originally under the memorable but hard to pronounce moniker of Misinterprotatoand has released four previous albums. The band's first international release, Variations
(Naim Label, 2010), established its credentials with the help of some guest players. The Gentle War
(Naim Label, 2011) kept to the core trio of pianist and composer-in-chief Sean Foran
, bassist Pat Marchisella and drummer John Parker
and further enhanced Trichotomy's reputation for crafting music that ranges from minimalist beauty to powerful, intensely energetic grooves.
For Fact Finding Mission
the band returns to the "trio plus guests" approach of Variations
, adding guitarist James Muller
, percussionist Tunji Beier and reeds player Linsey Pollak to a few of the tunes. On the dramatic title track there are also some uncredited samples from "guest vocalists," with Richard M Nixon and George W Bush both seemingly making appearances.
Trichotomy's energy is apparent from the first bars of "Strom," as Foran lays down a hard-hitting rhythm with his left hand and a sprightly, Vince Guaraldi
style, melody with his right. Marchisella and Parker are right there as well, matching Foran's early impetus. It's a great opening number, setting a high standard which the band maintains for the rest of the album.
The joyous good humor of "Strom" is also a major ingredient of compositions inspired by Foran and Parker's children. The lilting, playful, "Song For EV" was written by Foran for his daughter: the gentle "Lullaby" was inspired by Parker's sons. The drama of Parker's "Fact Finding Mission" is also replicated on other numbers. "Civil Unrest"another of the drummer's compositionsadds Muller's clear, precise guitar and Beier's percussion to the mix on a tune that shifts in pace and mood in occasionally unsettling but always engaging ways. Beier and Pollak, who perform together as DVA, take a leading role on "Brick By Brick," setting up a mystical, Eastern-flavored atmosphere before Marchisella's emphatic bass hook adds a funkier rhythm.
After 14 years as a trio, Trichotomy is still progressing, still developing and exploring new directions, with each new album bringing another dimension to the band's approach. Fact Finding Mission
is the sound of one of the most exciting trios in contemporary music.
Strom; The Blank Canvas Part 1; Lullaby; Fact Finding Mission; Song For EV; Civil Unrest; The Brook; The Blank Canvas Part 2; Brick By Brick.
Sean Foran: piano; Pat Marchisella : double bass; John Parker: percussion; James Muller: guitar (2, 6, 8); Tunji Beier: percussion (6, 9); Linsey Pollak: reeds (9).