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The three young British players who constitute Troykaguitarist Chris Montague, keyboard player Kit Downes and drummer Joshua Blackmorekeep many things simple on their second album, Moxxy. One-word band name, album title and song titles keep things nice and easy. The album covera faux '50s Russian propaganda poster and a departure from Edition Records' usual visual stylemaintains this straightforward approach. The band doesn't apply the same policy to the actual music, thoughTroyka is adept at creating tunes that mix funky grooves, electronic experimentation and light and almost bucolic melodies with aplomb.
On Moxxy, the funky rhythms and melodies work best when they stay relatively free of electronics. Compared to the band's eponymous 2009 Edition Records debut, Moxxy seems to have reined in any tendency towards overuse of electronic effects to the overall benefit of the material, which possesses a more focused and controlled feel as a result.
Montague gets the bulk of the writing credits, including two tunes co-written with Blackmore. He has a nice line in titles that seem to promise one kind of tune but deliver another. "Dropsy" may conjure images of ailing, swollen-bellied, dissolute Victorian gentlemen, but the tune is a rather more endearing combination of Montague's fluid guitar and a heavier groove led by Blackmore.
"Chaplin" is a slow, melancholy, tune. If it is inspired by the film star then it's definitely his character's pathos rather than his slapstick violence. Downes and Blackmore keep the rhythm simple as Montague creates a sad but lovely solo. Co-written with Blackmore "Rest" centers on another rather gentle, though more upbeat, lead guitar part. Blackmore's "Zebra" shifts between hard-edged, funky, four-four beats and a prettier, gentler, more complex section.
Downes' two compositions are more downbeat. He underpins "Crawler" with a spooky Hammond bass line, creating an unsettling sound picture. "Islands" features subtly effective electronics and Blackmore's spiky drumming. Montague plays some long, fluid, lead lines reminiscent of Robert Fripp's early King Crimson daysperhaps it's no coincidence that the tune shares its title with that group's 1971 album.
Montague, Downes and Blackmore are accomplished players who are also maturing as writers. Moxxy ably demonstrates Troyka's development as a band that is honing its skills and refining the beauty and passion of its sound.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.