Troyka – Ornithophobia

Warning! This review contains references to jazz so anyone offended by this four letter word is advised to look the other way now.

Troyka, as their name implies are a three piece, who peddle a brand of tough-to-pigeon-hole jazz-rock fusion, and feature Chris Montague on guitar, Joshua Blackmore on percussion and Kit Downes on keyboard.

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I’ve just finished reading the late Ned Sherrin’s autobiography and it occurred to me that on the long running BBC Radio Four arts programme Loose Ends that he hosted for a number of years Troyka would be perfect musical guests for its beard stroking teatime intellectual audience.

Ornithophobia, which I’m reliably informed is a fear of birds, is their second album and comes hot on the heels of last years acclaimed ‘Moxxy’.

I’ll admit that reviewing this has taken my out of my comfort zone as I listen to its modern jazz squeaks, honks and tinkles. But there’s enough to draw me in with its smart vocal sampling and some nice King Crimson-esque guitar riffing and noodling. Indeed, 1980s era King Crimson (circa ‘Discipline’ and ‘Three of a Perfect Pair’) are a good comparison. Another point of reference is Frank Zappa as are Soft Machine and the more experimental side to Radiohead.

Among the most accessible tracks are ‘Bamburgh’, ‘Seahouses’ and ‘Thopter’ which act as a good entry point for a band that makes a welcome musical diversion from the current crop of identikit pop drivel. If you want to step out of your comfort zone, and are willing to try something refreshing and a little demanding then this album could be for you.

By John Haylock

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John Haylock

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