A Troop of Echoes has a stunning ability to encompass multiple moods within a single song — at times simultaneously sounding both soothing and unsettling; other times both wistful and hopeful. In that, their sound is truly cinematic. Not “cinematic” in the banal manner used to describe expansive music that’s ultimately sonic wallpaper, but in that A Troop of Echoes uses unique characteristics of each instrument — guitar, saxophone, bass and drums — the same way that a masterful director uses angles, lighting, editing, etc., to convey complex details of story and emotion.
The evocative melodic work of Troop saxophonist Peter Gilli interweaves with the chiming and textural feel to guitarist Nick Cooper’s parts as the two often create a swirling tug and sway driven by bassist Harrison Hartley’s chordal riffs and drummer Dan Moriarty’s symphonic approach to the rhythms. The quartet’s emphasis is on the journey and the impact, like the best moments of The Dirty Three wherein their deft musicianship never upstages the song’s emotional weight. Throughout the quartet’s forthcoming sophomore full length The Longest Year on Record, the music is marvelously engaging in its clever melodies, yet also loaded with innovative ideas.
A Troop of Echoes formed in 2004 amongst Providence’s fertile underground music scene, early on distilling the noise and math-rock tendencies of Lightning Bolt and Battles, combined with the chaotic free-improvisatory energy of late-era Coltrane. As Gilli, Cooper, and Hartley studied music at the University of Rhode Island, Moriarty ran a DIY music space while completing his degree in astrophysics at the University of Massachusetts. Marrying quirky harmonies with frenetic energy, their punchy and acrobatic 2009 debut Days in Automation set the ground for what was to come.
Writing for The Longest Year on Record came to focus on space, both physically and compositionally. Cooper and Moriarty moved into a massive studio loft on Providence’s South Side in 2013, inspiring the use of more understated sonics. Troop began working with a wider palate of instrumentation, including strings, horns, vibraphone, vocals, and a drum team. The Longest Year on Record was tracked almost exclusively in the band’s new practice space by longtime friend Graham Mellor, mixed by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Pelican) at The Seaside Lounge in Brooklyn, and mastered by Carl Saff in Chicago. Like Troop’s beautifully honed songs, the album production is impeccable in its use of space and blending or contrasting elements.
The Longest Year on Record will be available on LP, CD and download May 19th.