[1 October 2009]
The three British plucked-string musicians of Les Triaboliques have two things that should make them the envy of everyone who listens to its debut album: They have decades of experience, and they have oceans of enthusiasm. Ben Mandelson was a founding member of 3 Mustaphas 3 (slogan: “Forward in all directions!”) and went on to other multinational music-related things. Lu Edmonds has performed with punk and folk bands, playing guitar, saz, ud, and other Eurasian instruments. Justin Adams, a blues guitarist with an interest in North and West Africa, comes to Rivermudtwilight from a partnership with ritti player Juldeh Camara. The duo’s Soul Science release was a highlight of 2008, and the strengths of that release are here—the relish, the skill, and the sense of surging creation. However, its primary weakness is also here—singing that is adequate but nothing more. Rivermudtwilight scoops up ideas from Russia on “Gulaguajira (I, The Dissolute Prisoner)”, Jewish Eastern Europe on “Hora Anicuta Draga/Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, and post-rock on “Phosphor Lane”, as well as the Middle East, British trad, and so on. Sometimes the band plays it straight, and sometimes it mixes things up Mustapha-like when “Hora Anicuta Draga” segues into “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. It’s exhilarating and earthy.