Mark Trecka
Photo: Craig Chin

Mark Trecka Crafts Inventive Gloom on ‘The Bloom of Performance’

Paris-based experimentalist Mark Trecka incorporates a slightly more traditional song structure on his excellent new album, The Bloom of Performance.

The Bloom of Performance
Mark Trecka
Beacon Sound
23 February 2024

Mark Trecka is the type of experimental artist who has successfully attempted a number of different styles of execution and has always managed to remain fresh and exciting. His early work with Pillars and Tongues was partly inspired by the spiritual jazz of artists like Pharoah Sanders. His two previous solo albums, Acknowledgment and Implication, see him experimenting with voice, piano, and tape loops. Now, with The Bloom of Performance, Trecka has embraced a somewhat “full band” sound that results in a more dense, downbeat type of art-punk that recalls earlier artists and eras but is still very much forward-thinking.

Hailing from Chicago but now based in Paris, Trecka recorded The Bloom of Performance over the course of a year with the assistance of Sam Skarstad (Yellow Eyes), and it features contributions from Martin Courtney (Real Estate) and Evan Hydzik (Pillars and Tongues). There is a 1970s/1980s post-punk aura around it – David Bowie‘s Berlin trilogy comes to mind, as does Scott Walker‘s more experimental late period – but these are mainly surface comparisons that dissipate slightly as the listener becomes more involved in the songs and sees them for what they are – the work of an artist who is forging a unique path.

The influence of Bowie certainly comes through in the vocals, particularly on the rumbling, percussive “Clarity Demand” (aided by chunky bass lines and gorgeous piano/synth interplay), as well as the goth-framed “Houndedness”, in which the loping bass complements Trecka’s reverberating, double-tracked singing. Walker can be heard in “Staying Desire”, as Trecka sounds like a torch singer breaking through the cacophony of a sonic apocalypse.

But there are moments when one isn’t really sure what, if anything, Trecka is channeling. The opener, “Utter Fallen Bloom Things”, incorporates distorted tribal drumming and chiming keyboards as Trecka croons over the music before gears are shifted and instruments are added and subtracted. The song is busy and curious and contains a multitude of ideas while remaining on a steady, hypnotic track. Trecka seems to love keeping us guessing without ever really misfiring.

Some of The Bloom of Performance’s more interesting, unique moments include the mysterious, compelling “Epiphanic Crush”, a dark, gloomy instrumental that incorporates a piano-like percussion figure (or is it a heavily treated piano?) mixed with ambient effects and distortion. It’s uncommonly creepy and provides the right amount of balance between the slightly more conventional-sounding tracks. Then there’s “Speak or It Will”, which has Trecka singing somewhat free-form over a muffled industrial backdrop, complete with a coda of murmured voices and noisy loops (which lands headfirst into the heavily percussive closing track, “Go Through”).

“There’s no grand, personal narrative about this record that I want to share with the public,” Mark Trecka explains in The Bloom of Performance’s press notes. “But…I very much wanted to make a record that I would want to listen to; that – if I encountered it – I would be compelled to share, to put the songs on mixtapes for my closest friends.” There is certainly plenty for fans of classic post-punk, industrial, or dream-pop to enjoy here, but Trecka has also crafted a sound that is very much his own.

RATING 8 / 10