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Three Trapped Tigers - Silent Earthling (Album Review)

Thursday, 31 March 2016 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

Good reviews and a Deftones support slot notwithstanding, Three Trapped Tigers didn’t catch the attention they perhaps deserved with their 2011 debut, ‘Route One or Die’. The trio’s fusion of groove-based post-rock and IDM was more than just unique; it was an experimental, futuristic vision of electronic music that threw everything on the canvas.

‘Silent Earthling’, its long-awaited follow-up, continues in this maximalist vein and arguably goes further. Every song here feels like a deliberate attempt to blast the listener’s head off, from the ominous title track to the noisy climax, Elsewhere.

It’s hard to pinpoint a principal leading instrument in this attack with so many elements at play. Droning synths typically form the main melodies, augmented by driving guitar and off-the-wall drums. Beyond this foundation, though, it’s bedlam.

Synthesisers whizz around in every direction. Arpeggiated loops might fly overhead, but then muddy industrial bass hits you out of nowhere. It’s in this coordinated madness that Three Trapped Tigers are happiest, to the point where even their more meandering moments are oddly thrilling.

The fact they get carried away with their synth-led melodies on Strebek and Tekkers, for example, doesn’t matter so much because the syncopated rhythms and layers are fascinating. These improv-esque detours would make them feel like a jam band if they weren’t so complex.

They’re most devastating when they let mood dictate their direction. Kraken is one such highlight, a monster of a track that almost spirals out of control before crashing back to earth. Such amplified twists would feel frenzied if not for the absolute precision and, at points, they feel like tech metal grooves in an electronic context.

Even the more elegant passages are surrounded by a racket. The retro synth sound on Blimp evokes electro revivalists like College, and the effect is quite beautiful until they throw it all out the window with another switch in pace. These sweeping dynamic shifts are frequently disorienting for the listener but there’s always a pay-off, with the sparkling highs tastefully developed.

The band acknowledge their relentlessly colourful approach on Rainbow Road, named after the infamous track on the racing game Mario Kart. It’s perhaps the flashiest song of the lot as its blaring, staccato high-end keys convey the tension of nearly crashing off the side of the racecourse. But not quite.

Three Trapped Tigers never do go all the way over the edge, always reining it in at the last moment. That gives ‘Silent Earthling’ an air of unpredictability even on repeat listens, taking you down rabbit holes and then dazzling when it's least expected. ‘Route One or Die’ was an entertaining introduction to their antics. This is the one where they leave the planet.

Three Trapped Tigers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun April 17 2016 - GLASGOW Hug and Pint
Mon April 18 2016 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Think Tank
Tue April 19 2016 - YORK Fibbers
Wed April 20 2016 - LIVERPOOL Buyers Club
Thu April 21 2016 - MANCHESTER Deaf Institute
Fri April 22 2016 - NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social Club
Sat April 23 2016 - BIRMINGHAM Rainbow
Mon April 25 2016 - READING Purple Turtle
Tue April 26 2016 - GUILDFORD Boileroom
Thu April 28 2016 - LONDON Scala
Sat April 30 2016 - MILTON KEYNES Crauford
Mon May 02 2016 - BRISTOL Lantern
Tue May 03 2016 - BRIGHTON Haunt
Mon May 09 2016 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Tue May 10 2016 - CAMBRIGDE Portland Arms

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