Poetic chaos

A Troop of Echoes spend Days In Automation
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 19, 2010


The melodic noise collective known as A Troop of Echoes will unveil their full-length debut Days In Automation next weekend at AS220, hosting their album release party alongside an impressive gathering of local support (including Mahi Mahi). And the South County-based quartet is already signed on for an afternoon set at this year’s Foo Fest, set to invade Empire Street in mid-August. A Troop of Echoes are indeed a product of their environment, what they refer to as “the bizarre art school-meets-filthy warehouse stew of Providence, RI.” That sentiment is echoed within the array of live acts A Troop of Echoes have teamed with, from Roz Raskin and Stalemate to hardcore face-shredders YavinFive.

The unique ingredient in ToE’s instrumental romps, as opposed to like-minded experts like California Smile, Bellows, and Nature/Nurture, is the saxophone (alto and soprano), courtesy of band founder Peter Gilli. Five years ago he approached friends with the novel idea of a saxophone-fronted rock band, and both Gilli and drummer Dan Moriarty are quick to salute Sonic Youth, as well as Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, as vital influences. Their entertaining, horn-tooting bio dubs their approach “the frantic noise of Sonic Youth’s most avant-garde wet dreams” giving way to “high-energy, song-based, instrumental dance rock,” along with this smug yet enticing reference:“Stan Getz watches impartially from a distance as Lightning Bolt crashes the party. Then Philip Glass replaces the windows.”

A Troop of Echoes (the band moniker inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”) mixed and tracked Days at Machines with Magnets over a week-long stretch. “They were long, long days,” Troop drummer Dan Moriarty conceded, who was living in Baltimore at the time and is relocating back to Providence next weekend.

“The most challenging song for me was the first song we recorded, ‘Hollywood Red,’ ” Moriarty recalled. “I arrived at the studio straight off of a sleepless red-eye train from Baltimore, and this was really our first professional recording experience, so nerves were running pretty high.

“Initially, we didn’t realize how much the recording process amplified even the tiniest mistake, and the engineers were very vocal when something was a little off. We were pretty disheartened after the first day of recording, and I remember laying in bed that night dreading having to go back to the studio the next day.”

“But, after a good night’s sleep, this album turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences we’ve had as a band.”

Those challenges paid dividends; “Hollywood Red” opens the album and stands out as a major highlight, along with “Golden Gears” and “Providence Public Defender.” Bassist Harrison Hartley plays a vital role throughout, particularly his nimble lines locking on with Moriarty, accompanying Gilli’s funky, swirling sax groove on “Little Bird.” Nick Cooper plays the role of Moore/Renaldo with the Marshall-humping, jagged guitar squalls on “Analog Astronaut,” and the monster meltdown that closes out the eight-plus minute “New Breath.”

Moriarty summed up the band’s sonic blueprint via email:

“When you grow up across town from bands like Lightning Bolt, you’re going to appreciate a good dose of noise and feedback in your music. We’re fascinated by the idea of composed melodies fighting their way through swirling chaos.

“Noise and feedback can be playful, lush, and fuzzy or annoying, aggressive, and post-apocalyptic. We enjoy all of these aspects.”

Days In Automation will be available at the CD release party, and at iTunes and all CD outlets on June 1.  

A TROOP OF ECHOES + MAHI MAHI + VOLCANO KINGS + HERRA TERRA | Saturday, May 29 @ 9 pm | AS220, 115 Empire Street, Providence | 401.831.9327 | $6

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