The Phantom Tollbooth

Dancing About Architecture
Artist: Trip
Label:  Alternative Route Records
Time: 42:08/ 10 Tracks

This is the confession of a music reviewer. Trip's booking agent sent me Dancing About Architecture many months ago, but I have selfishly kept this project to myself. It never leaves my car's CD changer. Everyone who has received transport from me has also received a healthy dose of this remarkable musician's genius--the van itself vibrates in sympathy with this low-end musical marvel. Yet conveying this electric bassist's virtuosity on paper has been, well, like dancing about architecture--a simile usually attributed to Frank Zappa, but credited to Robyn Hitchock in the album notes of this self-produced, home-recorded gem.

Fortunately, neither the limitation of the word nor the traditional role of the bass guitar in rock music have kept Trip from communicating. His five-string fretless instrument easily travels between smooth jazz, hard electric rock and world beat, exploiting such un-bass techniques as double picking, fingerboard taping, alternative tunings, harmonics, and on-the-fly tuning. The easily identifiable techniques are also there--slap bass, fretless note shaping, and jazz stylings framed by sustained notes so low they are experienced resonating deep within the body more than they are heard. The project is evenly split between solo pieces, ensemble instrumentals, and songs. Trip has mastered the intense, on-pitch, high emotion vocals so necessary for a singer/songwriter, and writes thoughtful, oblique lyrics to back it up. His three songs, "Oh, but No," "One More Time," and "Harder" are guideposts for the project's instrumental excursions, and exemplary writing by a Christian artist in the world, but not of it.

Because Trip is an independent artist limited for now to the Louisiana and Texas music scenes, this CD may be the only opportunity the rest of us will have to experience his dark, deep world. It is with deepest regret that I remove Trip from my CD changer to make way for other review projects. While I cannot articulate why, these tunes are settled deep within my bones

For more information, please contact:

Jimmy Swan
PO Box 121009
Arlington, TX  76012

By Linda T. Stonehocker (11/11/98)