CD Review – Trifecta – Fragments

Would anyone like to enter into a debate as to whether Nick Beggs or Steven Wilson is the busiest man in prog? No, no! We can’t do that. We’d be here for days and probably still couldn’t reach a conclusion. There’d be a dark horse, there’s glaciers melting and we wouldn’t reach an agreed outcome before we looked out of our windows and found the gardens waterlogged.

So yes, Nick Beggs is one of the musicians who make up this trio. Indeed, Steven Wilson was indirectly responsible for the band coming together in the first place. Bassist and Chapman stick player Beggs, drummer Craig Blundell, and keyboardist Adam Holzman all played together in Steven Wilson’s band. Apparently, Wilson isn’t overly fond of long drawn out soundchecks, being content to play just two or three numbers. This would leave the other musicians free to jam and improvise with each other after he had left. Each was impressed by what they heard from the others, so they started recording one another on their mobile phones, eventually realising that they had something they considered worthwhile converting into an album. So, Trifecta was created.

The CD is pretty much jazz rock, although Nick Beggs has another description for it: “Fission! It’s like Fusion but less efficient and more dangerous…with fall out.” It is certainly at the extreme edge of progressive rock, heavily soaked with jazz. It has as much to do with Weather Report then it does with Yes. Keyboard player Adam Holzman does of course have a background in jazz having played with Wallace Roney, Grover Washington, jazz-legend supreme Miles Davis, and others. With the exception of one track, the music is all instrumental but concisely so. There are fifteen tunes in all, the longest of which clocks in at a little over four minutes. The music is changeable, colourful and fun. It sounds merry and light-hearted and the tracks have been given whimsical or humorous titles which reflects this. There’s Clean Up On Aisle Five, Sally Doo-Dally, Have You Seen What The Neighbours Are Doing?, Nightmare In Shining Armor and others. There are a lot of moods and variations in tempo throughout, great playing and wonderful imagination.

Inevitably particular tunes or sections of tunes remind you of something you’ve heard before. The opener Clean Up On Aisle Five has a strong feel of a Canterbury band about it, with all three musicians beavering away productively. Check Engine Light, is a little funkier, and Auntie is an energetic, restless piece. There’s the odd section dotted here and there that are reminiscent of Brand X or a touch of Zappa. Maybe a touch of Yes at its most freakish. Most obviously, there’s a kind of a paean to Robert Fripp on The Enigma Of Mr Fripp where Nick Begg’s Chapman stick brews up a tune that evokes gamelan inspired 1980s King Crimson. The stick was key to that era of King Crimson and it works a treat here although the piece brings in more keyboard work than Crimson ever considered. Pavlov’s Dog Killed Schrodinger’s Cat is about as commercial as they get, but then decides not to bother! It’s a slow-paced song reflecting on science and modern life, with the lyrics, according to Nick Beggs being “written from the perspective of a layman trying to understand quantum mechanics…and failing!”.

Throughout, you get the impression the musicians are enjoying the joyful music they’re creating. No one member of the trio dominates. Nick Beggs conjures up some interesting and oblique rhythms, Adam Holzman joins in with robust rhythms or solos with sweeping, graceful elan. It is Craig Blundell’s dextrous drumming though that seems to hold the music together, creating a foundation on which the other elements in the music can be placed. None of the tunes outstay there welcome though. There is no endless noodling as the brevity restricts this. Which might be the one weakness of the album. Essentially nothing is allowed a slow build with a sudden chilling eruption, so there’s no tension as such. It is bubbly, creative, and a highly enjoyable listen nonetheless.

1 Clean Up On Aisle Five [3:07]

2 Check Engine Light [2:55]

3 Proto Molecule [2:20]

4 Auntie [2:57]

5 Venn Diagram [2:42]

6 The Enigma Of Mr. Fripp [2:44]

7 Sally Doo-Dally [2:54]

8 Have You Seen What The Neighbours Are Doing? [2:58]

9 The Mute Gospel [3:16]

10 Pavlov’s Dog Killed Schrodinger’s Cat [4:12]

11 Voyage Of Discovery [3:02]

12 Nightmare In Shining Armor  [2:00]

13 Dry Martini [3:13]

14 Lie 2 Me And Take My Money [3:13]

15 Hold It Like That [3:28]

Release date: 20th August, 2021

Label: Kscope

Nick Beggs – vocal, bass and stick

Craig Blundell – drums

Adam Holzman – keyboards

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