Review: Troum - Eald-Ge-Stréon (2009)


troum_egsartist: Troum
release: Eald-Ge-Stréon
format: 2xCD
year of release: 2009
label: Beta-lactam Ring
dur­a­tion: 1:32:18

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

If there are any artists in the realm of drone music that have left a last­ing impres­sion on me dur­ing the past few years, Troum surely are among them. The Ger­man duo con­sist­ing of Glit[S]ch and Baraka[H] (both pre­vi­ously part of Maeror Tri) have done so not only through a breath-taking live per­form­ance a couple of years ago, but also through their recent releases, such as AIWS and their col­lab­or­a­tion with Martyn Bates on To a Child Dan­cing in the Wind. When the first notes of “Ela­tion” hit me when listen­ing to the samples of this latest release, I knew we were in for some­thing spe­cial once more.

Accord­ing to the liner notes, this album is a col­lec­tion of oddit­ies, presen­ted almost apo­lo­get­ic­ally as a loose col­lec­tion of tracks that were used before, some­times in live per­form­ances, reworked and remodeled. As a bonus, we get a second CD, Abhijñâ, which con­tains another 30+ minute new com­pos­i­tion. How­ever, when a ‘mere’ archival com­pil­a­tion is as tightly put together as Eald-Ge-Stréon, it doesn’t truly mat­ter where the mater­ial comes from; the res­ult is a rock-solid album of rhythmic drone music.

As that last typi­fic­a­tion sug­gests, rhythm is one of the factors that makes this album so grip­ping. Whether we are deal­ing with pure waves of sound - as in the truly mov­ing open­ing track or the serene “Eolet” - or rather the more con­crete per­cus­sion of “Usque Sumus Lux” or the bril­liant Sav­age Repub­lic cover “Pro­ces­sion”, rhythms and pulsa­tions power this album, giv­ing it a forward-moving (or spiral­ing) force that is usu­ally not achieved by more min­im­al­istic drone and ambi­ent artists. Like I’ve said earlier, it’s remark­able how coher­ent the sound on this album is, con­sid­er­ing the diverse ori­gins of the tracks them­selves. Each track seems to have received a great deal of atten­tion in order to make the per­fect fit, which has its effect on the listen­ing exper­i­ence: enter­ing Eald-Ge-Stréon is like drift­ing into a spe­cial world where sound forms epic cloud­scapes, sirens’ songs, and ritual jour­neys.

Added to the power of pro­cessed sound, there is always the visual and lin­guistic ele­ment prom­in­ent in Troum’s work. To start with the lat­ter, words from places dis­tant in time and space are always present (Old Eng­lish and Sanskrit album titles in the case of this double album, among other things), giv­ing other parts of your brain to work on some­thing as well. Per­haps my sus­pi­cion that at least one of Troum’s mem­bers is a pro­fes­sional lin­guist is foun­ded? Either that, or they simply have a knack for pick­ing thought-provoking words for their track titles. The visual side of this release is handled by Stephen O’Malley, res­ult­ing in a glitzy, almost too slick, design and pack­aging. It com­bines quite well with the excel­lent glossy (and sturdy!) sleeves used by the record label, but it’s per­haps a bit too arti­fi­cial com­pared to the organic, almost muddled flow of the music.

Time to cut a long story short: Eald-Ge-Stréon is a superb work, def­in­itely one of Troum’s best albums so far, and cer­tainly one of the most import­ant drone albums of the year. The ori­ginal 2CD edi­tion is lim­ited to 500 cop­ies, but a 2LP ver­sion is due in mid-November 2009. Ample oppor­tun­ity to lay your hands on this mas­ter­piece, in other words.

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

Eald-Ge-Stréon

1-1 Ela­tion (7:09)
1-2 Usque Sumus Lux (8:18)
1-3 Eolet (7:53)
1-4 Ecstatic For­lor­ness (9:40)
1-5 Dhânu-H (4:41)
1-6 Pro­ces­sion (4:39)
1-7 Cres­cere (16:28)

Abhijñâ

2-1 Abhijñâ (33:30)