Truby Trio

Andy Hermann
Truby Trio

Truby Trio

City: Los Angeles
Venue: The Larchmont
Date: 2003-10-18
It's becoming increasingly obvious to anyone whose brain hasn't been permanently addled by too much Red Bull and Ecstasy that if dance music is going to survive as a meaningful art form, it's going to have to evolve beyond the four-on-the-floor thump-thump that's been its stock in trade since the earliest days of disco. This isn't to say that house and trance and techno are ready to climb into the coffin and stay there -- there's still plenty of life left in all of them, and in about 2015 or so they're bound to become trendy again -- but after a steady diet of high-hats and kick drums, we clubgoers are starved for a little variety. And God bless Truby Trio for giving it to some of us one sweaty Saturday night in Los Angeles. Like a lot of people, I first discovered Rainer Truby and his partners-in-crime, Roland Appel and Christian Prommer, by way of a sunny slab of Brazilian house called "Alegre" and an equally cheerful bit of African-flavored nu jazz called "Carajillo", both of which started turning up seemingly everywhere beginning in 2000. The similarity of both tracks to works by fellow German producers Jazzanova was obvious (and cemented when Jazzanova remixed "Carajillo" to great effect), but Truby Trio's obsessions with Afro-Latin rhythms and jazzy keyboard hooks felt warmer and less mannered than the sometimes herky-jerky products of their peers. Then came their scattershot 2001 contribution to the acclaimed DJ Kicks mix series, followed by this year's uneven artist debut album Elevator Music, and my faith in Truby Trio as dance music's latest polyrhythmic saviors began to wane. They seemed far too interested in wild, eclectic sonic experiments and not enough interested in perfecting the sound they had pioneered on their earlier records. When they hit the mark, it was wonderful, as on the irresistible Latin/drum 'n' bass fusion of "A Festa" and their remarkable soul ballad collaboration with Joseph Malik, "Bad Luck". When they missed, it was positively baffling. Whose idea was it to update the hopelessly dated funk lite of L.T.D.'s "Love to the World"? Despite all this, I was still looking forward to hearing an extended DJ set from this mercurial trio, and at the Larchmont, they did not disappoint, tag-teaming for four-plus hours through a mishmash of house, Afro-Latin, nu jazz, breakbeat and drum 'n' bass sounds that at its peak was one of the most exciting DJ sets I've heard in a long time. On an album, over the course of just 15 tracks and about 60 minutes, such eclecticism can become a distraction; on the dancefloor, over the course of a long evening, it's invigorating. Following an opening set by DJ Jun that was a little too long on hip-hop and reggae beats, Rainer Truby (a.k.a. "The Average-Looking One") took the decks and quickly established a sexy, slinky vibe with tracks that layered plenty of Latin percussion atop classic house and salsa beats. Christian Prommer (a.k.a. "The Tall One") came up next and wasted no time in flipping the switch, opening his first portion of the evening with a hat trick of great tracks: the new version of "Alegre" off Elevator Music featuring Marcia Montez's sultry Portuguese vocals; a gorgeous remix of Latin Project's excellent "Lei Lo Lai"; and a deeper, more percussive version of another new Truby track, the Afro-beat hip-shaker "Make a Move". From here Prommer settled into more soulful, straight-up house territory, pacing his set beautifully to keep the crowd moving without wearing anybody out -- it was only 1 a.m. after all, and they were scheduled to play until four. When Roland Appel (a.k.a. "The Scruffy One" -- looking stylishly out of place with hippie facial hair and a death's head T-shirt) got his turn, he steered the music back squarely into Afro-Latin territory, dropping fiercely percussive tracks like Da Lata's "Serious" and cranking the volume up a notch or two. After that, your fearless reviewer had one vodka tonic too many, and the rest of the evening was a blur of thundering snares and congas amid an ever-thinning dance floor, as the trio shifted into drum 'n' bass territory and more and more clubbers fled to the safety of the rooftop patio bar to get their last orders in before they stopped serving alcohol at 2 a.m. I fled with them, and when I'd sobered up enough I went home. I like Truby Trio's brand of drum 'n' bass, which is jazzier and slinkier than most, but I still can't dance to it, and all those trebly percussion tracks were not faring well in the Larchmont's smacky acoustics. Still, I give Truby and company credit for fearlessly mixing it up so much over the course of one evening, and even more credit for keeping a lot of people dancing through it all. If they were better known in the drum 'n' bass community, I've no doubt they would have had even more success in keeping the crowd moving; as it is, though the dance floor definitely thinned out, it hardly emptied, and the vibe was great all night long, as people were clearly enjoying this change of pace from the steady diet of house they usually get at clubs like the Larchmont. Clearly, the Truby Trio are still poised to do some interesting things in the world of dance music, and erase the disappointment many fans may have felt at the mixed bag that was Elevator Music.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

In their captivating new single, Bodies Be Rivers blur the lines between cutting-edge indie rock and shimmery dream pop.

Bodies Be Rivers began as a project between Lauren Smith and Thomas Stephanos, melding her songwriting chops with his exemplary guitar. Three years following their inception and the duo is now a full-fledged quintet that also features Summer Stephanos, Jason Lawrence, and Matt Moon. They've expanded sonically, too, with a healing sound accentuated by an ethereal blend of dreamy instrumentation and seraphic vocals.

Keep reading... Show less

Forty years after its initial release, one of the defining albums of US punk rock finally gets the legacy treatment it deserves.

If you ever want to start a fistfight in a group of rock history know-it-alls, just pop this little question: "Was it the US or the UK who created punk rock?" Within five minutes, I guarantee there'll be chairs flying and dozens of bloodstained Guided By Voices T-shirts. One thing they'll all agree on is who gave punk rock its look. That person, ladies, and gentlemen is Richard Hell.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.