London duo, Trailer Trash Tracys, are back off their holidays or at least that’s how it sounds on their new release Althaea, an album that is ten tracks of tropically heated Asian rhythms. After a five year absence, Jimmy Lee and Susanne Aztoria continue to use more esoteric inspiration for their music, here citing Philippine folklore.
From the instrumental intro ‘Smoked Silver’, Trailer Trash Tracys create the disorientation of the Orient. What appears to be the relaxing noise of a new and exotic culture quickly turns into the nausea of a broken Victorian fairground ride. ‘Gong Gardens’, equally, is a combination of a stick being dragged across bamboo canes and swish electronics. Urbanity combined with the heady mix of insects and humidity.
The stronger tracks are the singles ‘Eden Machine’ and ‘Siebenkas’. Both have addictive rhythms and repeated motifs. Less cutting edge than their influences Cocteau Twins and Portishead would imply, ‘Eden Machine’ captures flashes of an exotic adventure like a sequence of pretty Snapchat images.’Siebenkas’ is more holiday romance. It is xylophones and garlands of flowers around your neck, heavily perfumed pink blossoms in black hair. But beware. It is also brightly coloured birds and drinks you can’t gauge the potency of.
Susanne Aztoria’s vocals, like Sarah Cracknell’s, offer consistency and a sense of the demure when all else has descended into holiday hedonism. Because the quality of the vocal doesn’t change, there is also a quieter spell on the album. Tracks such as ‘Betty’s Cavatina’, ‘Casadora’ and ‘Singdrome’ become a gentle background accompaniment.
A little bit more upbeat is ‘Kalesa’. The sounds of the Asian instruments are pulled through an effects system and it’s a bit like trying to recreate your favourite holiday meal or drink when you get back home. Think Angostura bitters in Sunderland. There is definitely something a little out of place on this album, something askew.
In the final track ‘100 Aspects of the Moon’, the holiday is at an end. We’ve changed location because this is Japan and China rolled into one. Lee’s effects capture red fans and Chinese dragons. There are cymbals and noises that capture fireworks and lanterns over the silent black water. For once, you arrived in time for the biggest celebration of the year. But this is also Saturday night, your last one before you return home.
Althaea is far less idiosyncratic than you might expect. St Etienne after too many Manila Sunshines. Soothing music for a long flight.
Althaea will be released on 11th August 2017 through Double Six.