Dusted Reviews

Triple Burner - Triple Burner

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Triple Burner

Album: Triple Burner

Label: Madrona

Review date: Aug. 16, 2006

Triple Burner’s self-titled debut marks the first full-length collaboration between guitarist Harris Newman and Godspeed! You Black Emperor multi-instrumentalist/percussionist Bruce Cawdron. As their impressive instrumental rapport demonstrates, the two are no strangers, having previously worked together on Newman’s two solo albums as well as with group Esmerine. Here, Cawdron fuses his eclectic percussion techniques (he plays not only drums, but also glockenspiel, bells, and so forth) with Newman’s American Primitive guitar to great effect: while Newman’s Fahey-inspired picking is impressive its own right, Triple Burner’s most effective work builds off the interplay between the two musicians.

Newman’s palette, while owing much to John Fahey, flirts with everything from eastern-tinged drones to Delta blues. While he plays primarily acoustic guitar (the electric only figures on one track here), he opts to amplify it, resulting in a resonant, slightly metallic tone. The sound remains the same throughout, and as a result the album feels like a single piece. At first Newman’s guitar seems to emerge out of a blur of white noise, gently joining a meditative drone that originates in the burst of electronic noise and ringing bowed glockenspiel that commence the first track. Things gradually pick up, as Cawdron moves to the drums and literally begins to propel Newman’s picking to full speed, culminating in the slide-guitar fueled “Wall Socket Protector.” The duo take a few questionable forays that put a damper on the album’s momentum, most notably the languid 14-minute “Pulse of Park Ex,” which stretches their penchant for hypnotic repetition to the breaking point.

Triple Burner’s few weak moments seem to result more than anything else from a lack of harmony between its two members — when one becomes less than essential, the music becomes far less interesting. As Cawdron proves, drums and percussion can do much more than keep the beat, but their ability to do so depends on the musicians using them as more than just a backdrop to other instruments. Luckily, he and Newman usually keep this in mind, displaying a remarkable sensitivity to each other and melding together beautifully as though they were playing a single instrument.

By Michael Cramer

Read More

View all articles by Michael Cramer

Find out more about Madrona

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.