Austin power trio Troller fuse fuzz bass, heavy analog electronics, and cinematic sound design into a simmering eight-song exorcism on their full-length Relapse debut Drain. Led by bassist and singer Amber Star-Goers, the line-up includes synthesist and rhythm programmer Adam Jones (of S U R V I V E), and guitarist and engineer Justin Star-Goers channeling their heaviest and most haunted currents into damaged anthems of wounded grandeur. Conspiring world events were ultimately a blessing as the pandemic forced the group to hunker down and fine-tune their practice space into a full recording studio. The result is multi-dimensional amplifier worship tinged with the stains of witch house, gothic pop and industrial shoegaze. Drain is both the sound of end times, and new beginnings.
It’s indeed an album of firsts: the first Troller LP entirely self-produced and mixed in-house; the first to feature guitar; and the first to fuse writing and recording into a seamless exploratory process. Despite the music’s electronic underpinning, it heaves with the texture and turmoil of live performance, honed across the band’s many years on stage. “Out Back” and “Rat Nest” drift shadowy and liminal, like underworld torch songs, while “Lust In Us” and the title track tilt and teeter in downward purgatories of smeared synth, screwed drum machinery, and fractured guitar. Amber Star-Goers wields her voice like a sacred weapon, alternately cursed, ethereal, erotic, and demonic. Instrumentally, Jones cites an array of techniques to achieve their ceremonial sound – from chromatic scales to shifting keys to the sculpted low end of rap production – but it’s the integration of so many disparate composites that elevates the group to a tier unto themselves.
Dirge-pop gem “Lictor” encapsulates Troller’s exorcistic alchemy in five intoxicating minutes. Cracked synthetic bells usher in a low-lidded march of mantric bass, windswept guitar, and apocalyptic melody, both doomed and defiant. Slowly Star-Goers’ soothsayer poetry comes into focus, hanging in the blood-streaked light: “Another faded point of view / becoming one’s true shadow / and behind every morning dew / succumbing to the darkness.”