Review: Trrmà – S/T

The drums on this record are incredibly rich. The kit spreads all around the stereo frame, arranged in a semi-circle of cymbals and toms and snares, all of different timbres and tunings; some bouncing and reverberant in tone, others kept to a taut crack, all of them cradled in the bright echo of an empty room. Percussionist Giovanni Todisco swerves in and out of rhythms and improvisation, gathering momentum and shedding it, skins wobbling on either of him. And then there’s Giuseppe Candiano’s synthesiser: crude, dry, precarious. A noise that splutters and breaks, running the centre of the frame like a fracture. The two elements repel eachother. Todisco’s fluid rhythm work is a rejection of Candiano’s stifled, haphazard electricity. The synthesiser’s gnarled and charred edges are a rejection of those crisp, beautifully rounded percussive hits. There is undoubtedly a collaborative kinship at work, but also an air of mutually-assured sabotage, with the abrasion of raw voltage soiling the primal expression of percussion and vice versa. I’m allured by both the points of connection and those sparks of dispute, and the record holds together for as long as these opposites can keep eachother in check.

Yet there’s no clamorous crescendo; no rabid escalations of force; no bursts of rhythm-noise din. Instead, the duo hold themselves in a state of gnawing discomfort, with electronic feedback showering over those rumbling polyrhythms, trying to puncture the membrane of civility that keeps the percussion within the realms of musical obedience, goading those tempered drum hits toward the booms and bangs of violence. The synthesiser speaks in crackles and snarls rather than squeals and screams – the energy is suppressed, spluttering like water through an early crack in the wall of a dam, heavy with the burden of what is not let forth into the open. Trrmà form an anxious collaboration, tied together by the most brittle thread of courtesy and social order.