June 18, 2024

3Hattrio – “Lost Sessions” – Twisted desert landscapes painted by acoustic trio


A trio made up of banjo, double bass, percussion and violin is never going to be run of the mill. There’s a lot of atmosphere here and a melding of traditional sounds and contemporary milieu that runs parallel to work by Lau in Britain. Haunting like morning haze lifting, hypnotic like simple hand drum beats, coloured with folk textures. It is as honed to the desert as Ry Cooder’s soundtracks and to a quiet celebration of life as jam-band, The String Cheese Incident. At other times it can bump along like a Floppy Boot Stomp from that other desert dweller, Captain Beefheart. The textures of the acoustic instruments are satisfyingly grainy and real, set amidst washes of texture. I’d swear there was a sensitive use of electronics here but the promotional blurb assures me that the synth pad sound is the double bass, along with other effects, like the violin being delayed or distorted, some drawn from EDM, making it a little like those fusion albums Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records used to do.

That cross between EDM sounds, traditional textures and a conscious effort to paint pictures rather than play songs, make this a filmic album and a moment in the longest track sounds like Bruce Hornsby improvising ‘Space’ in a Grateful Dead concert. Greg Istock from the band says; “We can be free to make musical sound that is not like any song, nothing like we’d made before. We are not playing a song anymore. We were playing a feeling, a picture of place or an occurrence. Once we played a virtual train wreck”. Based in Utah, in desert country, it seems that open landscapes with twisted and mysterious features has deformed the band members’ imaginations and brought them to a musical place where sonic shapes are twisted, mysterious and open to interpretation, especially by the unfamiliar eye.

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