Tricolor Nonparticipant & Milk

This is the second album from Tricolor, who is composed of Jeff Parker's (Tortoise, Isotope 217) scrapin' and squawking guitar, Tatsu Aoki's bass and David Pavtrovic on drums. The use of the word "pop" to describe themselves in their bio is not as jarring as one would expect from an improv trio on an improv label. After all, a fundamental consideration of pop music is to have one's audience in mind when writing and playing music, which these guys seem to have. Accordingly, this is recorded in front of an audience at the Hothouse in Chicago. Tricolor is pop in the sense that they love to ride repetitive figures, which adds to the audience's enjoyment and to the energy level of the proceedings. The first two tracks, "Palpable" and "Nonparticipant," feature rhythms that start rocking out in a hurry. Frequently, Pavtrovic takes the initiative, cranking the tunes up a notch as Parker responds more than leads. Parker fiddles with electronics frequently but sparingly, creating some beautiful sounds, but sometimes not adding to the overall whole. Nonparticipant & Milk dissolves a bit after its beginning, as the group gets caught up in repetitive figures that aren't very interesting or momentum building. One exception is "Milk," which is anchored by Aoki's droning bass, allowing the other two to get as fiddly as they want on the surface of the song - this is a successful deployment of the talents of this trio. This CD is great in places, but has its dull stretches. They could probably have some excellent live gigs, though. (Atavistic)