Heavily influenced by The Slip and Bela Fleck, A Troop of Echoes is aptly named for their style. Inherently emotional, pensive, and sometimes haunting, this album sounds like a melancholy rendition of a faraway memory. Recorded in a former brewery in Providence, RI and mixed by a producer specializing in metal bands, and mastered in Chicago, this album has passed through many hands to form a unique sound. The Longest Year on Record is all instrumental, and with nine songs that are mostly over six minutes long, it’s experimental rock fusion that still retains a composed sensibility.
The first song, “Manifest and Legion” sets the tone for the rest of the album. It starts off slow and a little introspective, then unexpectedly delves into rock. Simultaneously intense and sweet like eating a Sour Patch Kid, this song holds a certain charm ending with a slightly militaristic sounding drum roll.
Next is “Small Fires” where the opening notes sound like they could be from The Pixies. The song begins with a psychedelic sounding saxophone which carries throughout. The saxophone is especially prevalent in this song and adds an upbeat, even triumphant sentiment. “Small Fires” has the kind of melody that you could easily find yourself humming along to.
In the beginning of “Acrecibo” the drums retain a bit of a militaristic sound, following in line with “Manifest and Legion”. The beginning of this song in particular sounds very methodic like a nostalgic slow dance. It unfurls itself into something quite pretty, the bass line leading the way.
“Kerosene”, the halfway point of The Longest Year on Record is the first song on the album that features string instruments. The glockenspiel really shines on this track in its mixture with the strings. “Kerosene” is a song that is rife with its own personality. It holds an intrinsic curiosity, and sounds like it could be lifted from a movie soundtrack.
“Constellation” and “The Longest Year on Record” are two of the strongest tracks on this record. Both are skillfully composed, delicate, and slightly wistful. “Constellation” resembles its title, both contemplative and poignant. Perfect for stargazing, its smooth amalgamation of sounds. This song has great transitions, each instrument coalescing together to create something larger. “The Longest Year on Record”, is the title track and represents what the crux of this album is all about. The softness of this song is highlighted by the saxophone’s trilling notes. The subtle bass line and the complex layering of sounds gives this song a slightly redemptive feel. It features a great buildup into a slightly angelic ending.
The pinnacle of instrumental music is that it’s so conducive to different interpretations. That is what is so great about this album. Musically, it’s dynamic and the production value is evident in the fact that it just sounds good. The Longest Year on Record seems like it could even be one continuous song that just happened to be broken into parts. This is A Troop of Echoes second record, and after listening to this, I’m looking forward to their next release.
Key Tracks: Small Fires, Kerosene, Constellation
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