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Roller Trio: New Devices

Roger Farbey By

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For their third studio album, Roller Trio underwent quite a sea change with the departure of guitarist Luke Wynter, who played a key role on their eponymously titled debut release on F-IRE in 2012 and its follow-up Fracture on Lamplight Social Records in 2014. His successor is Chris Sharkey whose contributions can be heard on Acoustic Ladyland's Living With A Tiger and three TrioVD albums. All four musicians, however, have the geographical area of Leeds in common. The three original members of Roller Trio are alumni of Leeds College of Music and Sharkey is co-founder of LIMA (Leeds Improvised Music Association).

Many of the tracks are strongly riff-based such as "Nobody Wants To Run The World." There is also tension and a dark undercurrent running through numbers such as "Dot Com Babel" and "Enthusela," the latter infused with a Hugh Hopper-esque deep and sinister metallic bass line that contrasts sharply with James Mainwaring's soprano saxophone. The eery, spine-tingling quality of "The Third Persona" evokes memories of the Cocteau Twins at their peak.

Comparisons are useless when faced with such an innovative and iconoclastic band, but there are clearly some detectable influences. "Decline Of Northern Civilisation," for example, in its opening bars exhibits shades of Terry Riley's "Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band" and also compares with the ostinato / tape loop section of Mike Ratledge's "Out-Bloody-Rageous" from Soft Machine'sThird. But the sheer energy of that track and others throughout the album also recalls the instrumental elements of King Crimson. Yet, the overall sound is a thousand miles from these prototypes. Sharkey's guitar input is here perhaps less obvious than were Wynter's overt guitar contributions. Nonetheless, this third Roller album demonstrates moments of captivating dynamism and haunting beauty.

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