Troll - Que Son Los Trolls Y En Que Nos Ayudan?
I simply cannot think of a better band
to represent America's cultural diversity than Troll. The reason for this
is not readily apparent; how can I explain myself without introducing the
band? They are Lotte Svennigsen (vocals, keyboards, and theremins), John
Koch (vocals/guitars), Scott Hewicker (guitars, pianos, and organs), Marina
Moreno (vocals and bass-playing), and last-but-not least, vocalist/percussionist/organist
It is apparent just by looking at the band
members' last names that some ancestral diversity is present; one could
assume traces of Latin America, Scandanavia, and the British Isles. What
makes a band like Troll so amazing is what they do with that ancestry;
the result is a stunning cocktail of music unlike anything most people
On their 2001 debut, Que Son Los Trolls
Y En Que Nos Ayudan? (henceforth referred to simply as Que),
Troll mix varying degrees of J-Rock (a slang term for Japanese pop rock),
brit-pop, 1960's-1970's American West Coast Garage rock, Kyuss stoner vibes,
Pixie freakouts, Latin beats, Texicana folk, and straight new-age noise
rock to make a band so diverse it is unique. This represents a perfect
analogy for America itself; how did a country formed almost entirely out
of immigrants (i.e. unoriginal inhabitants) go on to represent something
wholly separate and unique from anything else in the entire world? Troll
come across in the exact same way; on one hand, music fans can probably
detect a million different styles and influences here. On the other side
of the divide, Troll blends those influences so well that everyone will
swear they're hearing a musical revolution that has never been done before.
In many ways, most of the music on this
CD truly has never been done before. Take opening cut "Silver Mountain."
This track has garish psychedelic garage rock chords, keyboards that sound
like futuristic saxophones, and bright, colorful vocals that appear to
be in Danish. Oh, and while I'm talking about languages, the band proudly
proclaims that they speak Spanish, English, Japanese, Spanish, and Danish,
so don't worry if you can't sing along in any tongue besides joyful garbling.
"Equilibrio" is a acidic jam-rocker thought
up by a schizophrenic versed in Lingustics. The space-rock guitar solo
is Hawkwindish in scope, and bloody grand. "Love Song for Trixie" is a
toe-tapping song that sounds ever so slightly brit-pop; the lyrics are
mindlessly fun, and I challenge anyone not to smile at this song. "Dinahsoar"
is a dreamy collection of random sounds formed into an odd jaunt through
a weirdness. It feels like you're searching the attic of a musician who
recently passed away, and maybe stopping to play a vinyl or two while you're
there. "Army" is a smokey whisp of straight psychedelic rock; heck, the
lyrics are even in English this time!
"Blue Skies" is probably the best pop song
I've ever heard; soft, lush, and warm 1960's folk pop ambles by in an array
of shoegazing starbursts. It slowly builds into a swell of simplistic,
joyous, guitar meandering. I'm willing to bet Beatles fans will like this
"Texas Bossanova" is straightlaced Texicana/bossanova
folk mixed with some Japanese lyrics and a really grooving bassline; it
makes for some oddly enjoyable fun. "El Vampiro" sounds like a Pixies song;
if the Pixies had spawned 30 years from now in the Orient that is. Noisy,
psychotic, and a little scary, its another solid track. "California Poppy"
is a trippy little jaunt through the Technicolor movies of days long since
"Liars Club" sounds like one of the lighter
cuts from the classic Smashing Pumpkins album Siamese Dream, albeit
if the Pumpkins had been taking foreign correspondence classes and listening
to less rock and more folky pop.
Despite all the treats we've had before,
the jaw-dropping "Sleep Trane" is an epic (see about ten minutes long)
length track comprised of soft, sunny folk and classy jazz horns. The song's
nonchalant and dreamy qualities are what sets this treasure apart, and
as fluid vocals cascade from all the members and the tempo gets slowly
but surely more rushed, "Sleep Trane" gets better and better....which makes
the 12th track "Birdsong" seem like a farce; the careless Danish lyrics
over a flock of malfunctioning birds would have been cooler had it not
been set at the heels of the album's best track, or longer, seeing as it
doesn't even reach two whole minutes.
Troll traverses the musical world and brings
the listener back relics from each stop on the map. There truly is something
for everyone here (indie auteurs and progger-heads will probably get the
biggest highs) and there's barely ever a dull-moment. My one sole complaint
is that a track or two were filler and just added empty minutes to the
album; this CD is so damn good a two minute track of ambient chaos here
and there is not even necessary. All-in-all, this is one Troll you'll hope
to meet under any bridge you need to cross in your lifetime.
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