Three Trapped Tigers - Route One or Die - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Three Trapped Tigers - Route One or Die

by Rich Morris Rating:4 Release Date:2011-05-30

Oh, the widdling. The ceaseless, pointless, needless widdling. Please, nurse, make the widdling stop. I thought I was listening to Three Trapped Tigers' debut, not a bloody Muse album. TTT, in case you don't know, emerged back in 2008 with the modus operandi of translating the intelligent dance of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, etc to a live arena. To do this, they used drums, piano and guitars but also banks of synthesizers, drum machines and various gizmos, giving them a gloriously expansive sound-palette to draw from. Across one of their much lauded EPs, the sounds could range from blissful electronic bubble-bath, to brooding, slow-burning post-rock, to fiendish math-rock overload. Sometimes we'd even get a bit of avant-jazz or prog thrown in.

On this debut, however, such scope and ambition has been largely abandoned in favour of show-boating metal guitar work-outs, with the more esoteric sounds which peppered their EPs relegated to a supporting role. Almost every track here is buried under a blizzard of formless twiddling, shredding and general axe-wankery, all of which may look impressive on stage but adds absolutely zero to the music in question. Quite the reverse, in fact. It completely robs this music of the astounding complexity, subtly and variety at which TTT previously seemed so adept. Only the gentle 'Zil' ducks the trend, Tom Rogerson's soft pitter-patter piano notes made spine-tingling by a background of industrial scrapes and queasily shifting synth. It is, needless to say, the standout track in a monumentally disappointing set. Only the writhing 'Ulnastricter' comes close, while parts of 'Noise Trade' and 'Creepers' are as thrilling as anything they've done.

The question is, why the truncating of this band's sonic potential? Sure, such histrionics might have a place on this album, but on every song? That's overkill, plain and simple. It's still a safe bet that TTT have a great album in them but, hell, this is not it.

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