Trioscapes – Separate Realities [9 out of 10]

By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal

Between The Buried And Me is one of the most dynamic metal bands out there in today’s scene in my opinion, not only in terms of the music they compose, but also the way they present it on stage. Their latest EP “The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues” and the subsequent live shows prove this very statement. But besides the success it has achieved among fans and critics, the band’s music has also left room for the individual talents of the five members to prosper. As a result, they are now venturing into side projects to showcase these talents further. After last year’s electronic/experimental rock release by vocalist Thomas Giles Rogers called “Pulse”, it’s the turn of bassist Dan Briggs to present “Separate Realities”, the debut album featuring his jazz-metal fusion side project Trioscapes.

Usually, any side project starts out with the intent of composing material for a studio recording, and quite a few of them remain to exist as studio-only projects. But in this case, it’s very interesting to note that it originated in the exact opposite manner. Dan Briggs, along with Walter Fancourt on tenor, saxophone & flute and Matt Lynch on drums came together to work on a cover of “Celestial Terrestrial Commuters”, a tune originally released by John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra on their 1973 album “Birds Of Fire”. Besides this cover, they had some other ideas that they worked on in order to put together a one-off live show. But after the show, this turned into a thing of its own, and the result is right in front us, in the form of this debut album.

The sheer quality of the musicianship is quite apparent right from the get-go, and even though the absence of the guitar might be a turn-off, I think metal fans can still relate to and enjoy this album, because Dan Briggs’ low-end bass playing is not pretty similar to what he has done on BTBAM albums. By and large though, the music is certainly heavy on jazz part and focuses very less on the metal part, but personally I’m completely fine with that. The tunes “Blast Off”, “Curse Of The Ninth” and “wazzlejazzlebof” are extremely rich, smooth jazz compositions with the saxophone playing a prominent role, and honestly, it took me a couple of listens to get used to the style, but once I did, I found it enjoyable. The title song “Separate Realities” sounds almost like a jazzed up version of a typical BTBAM song, if I can put it that way, and should turn out to be the favorite tune amongst BTBAM fans and metalheads. This tune also left me wondering, what would a jazz-fusion version of a BTBAM album sound like? I’d definitely love to hear that.

Honestly, I had never heard the original version of “Celestrial Terrestrial Commuters” before I found out that Trioscapes had done a cover of it, but I listened to the original before checking out Trioscapes’ rendition of it. And I find their interpretation to be very interesting. They’ve beefed up and improvised quite a bit, and turned the 3-minute tune into an extended 5-and-a-half minute jam. By listening to this tune itself one can understand why the trio decided to take things beyond the one-off live show. The amount of enjoyment they’d be getting through playing jams like this must be just incredible. But my favorite track “Gemini’s Descent” comes right at the end of the album. It’s a compelling combination of jazz, metal and Indian classical soundscapes, and the way these sounds interact with each other is mind-blowing, to say the least.

On the whole, “Separate Realities” is a stellar effort by Trioscapes. Even though it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, it needs an acquired taste and has the potential to be enjoyed by music listeners of all kinds. If you’re a jazz-fusion fan, or just a metalhead who’s looking for something different, I’d recommend this album to you.

Rating: 9/10
[Click here to order the album via Amazon]

Record Label: Metal Blade
Release Date: May 8th 2012

Track Listing:
1. Blast Off
2. Separate Realities
3. Curse Of The Ninth
4. wazzlejazzlebof
5. Cerestial Terrestrial Commuters
6. Gemini’s Descent