Review by Steve Koenig
(famous both as Troum, and for producing the amazing Drone label series of vinyl
seven-inchers) meets wonderfully haunting singer Martyn Bates in their first
Ballads (with M. J. Harris) is one of my all-time favorite (triple) discs
in any genre. He's probably most famous for his duo Eyeless In Gaza. Bates'
voice has a beautiful Irish-sounding timbre; although you can imagine him doing
simple, traditional Child ballads, it has a commanding ring when he extends
Troum is not "just"
drone; these textures range from, well, drone to orchestral to folky. The result
is felicitous: six extended, moody pieces, each a song in its own right. To
accomplish this, Troum uses loops, accordion, guitars, djembe, guitar, voice
and "choirs," whatever that means; Bates does harmonica, melodica
and vocals. Texts are inside the beautiful triple-fold digipaks, each wistful
poem akin to a song from a 21st century Winterreise. Deeply moving.
If it's still available,
grab Troum's brilliant 2001 triptych Tjukurrpa, the second of which has
a track dedicated to Bates.