TRAYSH – Shady Favorites
8.3.23 by Matty McPherson
So just what is it about Husky Pants and cassette tapes? This is no longer a flirtation but a fixation, if not olive branch, towards the format fulfilling a strange curatorial impulse that’s caught in a lineage between a small bounty of jam-oriented, free-sprawling musics. That’s partially why when Ryley Walker releases a free jazz trio, it not only makes sense, but warrants as much attention as an Astral Spirits vintage. And for good reason! Have you seen the name of the Traysh trio? Daniel Van Duerm, Andrew Scott Young and Ben Billington. These aren’t just ten dollar (triple) names that warrant major billing on the tape releases and any fairgrounds where the ringling brothers once set up, but names rooted deep in Chicago musics. From Billington’s Quicksails to Young’s long collaborations with Walker, amongst Van Duerm’s time in AAVD Trio (who’s 2020 Orb Tapes remains one of the label’s strongest off-center noise curations); Traysh might as well be moonlighting as the Chicago Underground Trio for this era Chicago tape watchers.
And like good ECM warpers and second hand shop sound snatchers, Traysh’s debut Shady Favorites is a twisted left-field ode to the crate digging and scene watching. This is the kind of rollicking musician muscle for the jazz fan with both one hand on the 70s Miles jamming and another on Lounge Lizards/Saccharine Trust’s idea of a jazz for the punk basement. If Emergency Group hadn’t the rigid restraint and adherence to the motorik impulse on their February effort, it’s possible we would have seen territory akin to where Traysh goes. For there is a familiarity in the warming tones Van Duerm hits at with his ever reliant electric piano melodies and grooved out organ solos; as is Scott Young’s bass lines or guitar licks that reinforce the groove and let it sprawl or keep steadfast hustle. Yet Billington has a capacity to keep a normal time, or invert with sporadic frills and sudden solo sleights to upend the tiro’s almost-lockstep; or even with a synthesizer of his own to force everyone down their own crooked paths. Sick With Experience, their pinnacle jam, might buoy others with its true commitment to each member hashing out their own crooked sonic shapes. It comes together in harmonious deposits near its first third and finale that toy with silken noir theatrics, but a tumultuous middle section reinforces an underlying punk dissonance.
Their side B pushes up the hazy psychedelia. Van Duerm’s electronics adding snippets of otherworldly eerie aura, while Billington’s drum strike up claustrophobic, centripetal space. Meanwhile, Young’s guitar on Paint Sink is closer to the wooze of a pedal steel, while his bass plucking is akin to a marijuana cigarette wrapped in an American Spirits slowly spinning out. It’s our only buoy before the absolute technocolor storm that is the free jazz breakdown. Sutra Baths (“a great place to visit” – me) saunters and swells amongst that finger picking and synthesizer wail, natural crescendoes before coming back down to a Billington break that’s got the sweat of paranoia thick on it. Ever Over, the most pulped out cut, pushes the synth drone that’s sort of been suggested in the previous 4 cuts to the foreground, bellying into a massive hurricane with the organ before sputtering to a fine dandy conclusion.
Limited “spooly” Tape now available from the Husky Pants Bandcamp Page. The tape stops at Ever Over, but the gang were kind enough to include a digital bonus that surmises the veracity of this session.