Their music is a fresh, visceral stew of conventional and experimental sounds that features stonking riffs, thrashy noise, evocative songs and electronic soundscapes. Incubated in mammoth improvisation sessions, their music is delivered with a captivating swagger and greedy energy that is utterly beguiling and packs a powerful punch. Their riveting debut album, Roller Trio, was a Mercury Music Prize album of the year 2012.
Invited to record at Real World Studios in summer 2013 the band took unique inspiration from the Real World environment. Recording and living in a residential bubble, removed from their daily lives, making use of the spaceship control room, the warm sounding Wood Room and using the extensive facility of vintage hardware to process their instruments presented an inspirational opportunity for the young band.
Encouraged to play with the acoustics of the room, they ventured for the first time into recording freeish, spatial, open-ended improvisations that have opened up new recording and playing vistas for the band. Mixed with some more traditional Roller Trio compositions the resulting Society of Sound album offers a unique insight into a band on the move as their hook heavy compositions meld with the more ambient sounds inspired by their time at Real World.
The breakthrough occurred when the band’s recording engineer Tim Bazell appeared from the store cupboard (Real World's "Aladdin’s Cave" of instruments) with a massive smile on his face clutching two Eventide H3000 Harmonizers. Luke Wynter and James plugged into them and having never had the pleasure of using these devices before had no idea what any of the pre-set titles meant. So a new methodology developed: pick a pre-set title that sounded cool then start playing; this engendered a whole new imagination and set into motion improvisations that featured styles and idioms that had never before found their way into their compositions.
It forced them to interact with two more “voices” and induced Luke Reddin-William’s amazing drum ‘n’ bass and hip hop chops to come to the fore. Additionally giving the band access to the studio 24 hours a day for five days (some of the best material came at 6am after the band had played all night) gave them time to experiment and allowed the band to explore outside of their traditional comfort zones during the improvisations: Learning that interactive ensemble improvisations can create structures, ideas and rhythmic complexity that you could never write down!
The album opens with The Law of Five, a spacious drum ‘n’ bass influenced tune that is born out of a free jazz improvised sax and drum intro. Next up is Doris, a real live favourite, where consecutive driving melodic hooks segue into an explosive but naturally building saxophone feature. Laika is an ambient improvisation exploring electronics, distant chords and mallets creating a unique spatial atmosphere inspired by the Real World Studios acoustic. Tracer explores a hypnotic hip-hop influenced groove with spacey saxophone from James switching between atmospheric textures and funky ideas.
High Tea is a trademark Roller tune, riffy and punchy it was composed utilising Hindustani rhythmic and melodic techniques. Mango (GO!) is a playful jam leading to an epic rubato improv sandwiched by a complex, melodically developed head. Another gig fave, the energetic 3 Pea Soup features rolling rhythms colliding with skittering sax in this piece, bolstered by powerful rock guitar from Luke Wynter. Finally the album closes with Repose, a slowly building piece revealing naturally developed ideas in a classic ‘golden ratio’-inspired structure that closes out the album on an exultant note.
Finally, Roller Trio would like to thank the long suffering (and largely sleepless) Tim Bazell and all of the staff at Real World for making them feel so welcome and making their time at the studios so special, but especially, Amanda Jones, Patrick Phillips and all the Kitchen staff for the amazing food. They’re hoping to be asked back soon!
Subscribe to Society of Sound to download high-quality albums from Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios and the London Symphony Orchestra. All available in Apple Lossless and studio-quality FLAC. If you already have a Society of Sound membership please sign in