The Sins of
A Triggering Myth Album Reviews
Big Bang Magazine - Number 27, September 15, 1998
It is always practical, when one is discussing the latest offering from a group (and particularly when one is about to review it...) to have an objective element of novelty to hang onto. But it can also be dangerous when the element in question ends up having only a limited impact on the profound musical nature of the group in question. Such is the case, as one can see, in the collaboration between the American duo, A Triggering Myth, and the singer, Alberto Piras (and to a lesser extent his colleague from Deus Ex Machina, the violinist Alessandro Bonetti).
The announcement of this partnership two years ago brought a certain incredulous reaction. So very different, if not antinomic, were the respective universes of these protagonists. The gamble was even more exciting but, did "the Mountain give birth to a Mouse"? Not necessarily, but in any event it produced a musical hybrid whose enduring value for posterity is difficult to ascertain.
Knowing the work of A Triggering Myth, it is difficult to approach this new album as a whole. On most of "The Sins of Our Saviours" album, the compositions are typical of the group as we left it: one thus finds now familiar characteristics, especially the skill of Rick Eddy and Tim Drumheller in opposing the most diverse, if not extreme, elements and their propensity to regularly dramatize their music.
The Listener who does not know anything about the group, however, will enjoy the same surprise that he would have had with the previous albums (on this subject reading the related reviews can certainly be recommended). However, the musicians increasing mastery incites them to make a more weighty statement, which fortunately, does not lose any of its customary dimensions: the synthetic sounds, more autonomous than ever, retain a great power of seduction, maintaining as attractive and accessible, a very rich music, as well as a very complex one. From this point of view, "His Maddening Certainty" (10:50) is among ATM's greatest successes to date.
It is something else altogether as far as the outside elements introduced are concerned. The violin of Alessandro Bonetti on "Not a River" (4:18) tends to alter the piano/synthesizers equilibrium characteristic of the group in a way that renders it a more ordinary color (more typical of new music, among others). Exploited for a short duration, this instrument only broadens the diversity of the approach. Any more than that, and A Triggering Myth would have surely lost a little of its original splendor. Moreover, the singing of Alberto Piras (on three cuts) tends to eclipse the uniqueness of the group. One does not know if he really tried to integrate himself into it (this was perhaps not desired), but his vocal style is distinct to a point that it is almost impossible not to think about Deus Ex Machina.
The question of whether the experiment is conclusive from the musical point of view is then secondary. "Bagliore" (5:11) in particular, leads one to believe it should be pursued, but within the framework of the entire album, which is being considered. But the fact is, especially on "Stato di Confuzione Avanzata", the music of ATM seems to drift without really managing to find itself.
A half-hour flowing in a straight line from the preceding work of the duo remains. And one must acknowledge that here one finds the duo at their best. Those who discovered ATM with "Between Cages" could regret that it does not repeat the experience of a twenty-minute suite, for the symbolic side, but also, and more importantly, because this format gave them the opportunity to explore more accessible and melodic areas. While it sometimes reminds one of the slightly glacial neo-classicism of "Twice Bitten", this fourth opus is not a step backward but an additional step toward the full maturity of a singular musical entity.
It is, therefore, regrettable to have to repeat the same mixed review as in the past, as to the rhythmic dimension of this album. There is not in "Sins..." a significant evolution vis a vis the rigidity previously mentioned; one must, however, not overstate the problem and pound on the musicians themselves (especially the very deserving Moe Vfusateel). It is in fact, the decision to use the drums, which, in certain cases, though not all, appears questionable.
When it assumes a rhythmic role, the piano does it with such brio that it lends to underscore the sound limits of the more appropriate brass instruments. On the classical tradition side, a large range of percussion, and notably the timbales, would offer ATM the opportunity to vary the dramatic effects. Finally, there remains an immense field to explore when it comes to electronic rhythms, programmed or not, provided that the competition of the drums, as well as the stereotypical sounds, be decisively abandoned.
These considerations are, if it is necessary to mention it, more a challenge for the future because, when everything is said and done, "The Sins of Our Saviours" shall very likely be counted among the best successes of the year. And the fact that we can expect even better in the future can only add to our enthusiasm for this out-of-the-ordinary group which will gain in remaining so.