this can be our end

by de trop

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review from -

De Trop, which translates as 'unwanted, excessive or superfluous,' are anything but; in fact they are slightly demure, introspective and somewhat forlorn sounding. With their latest release This Can Be Our End they forgo the typical lo-fi traits of previous efforts for the clarity of superior production, a touch of gloss if you will, to polish their sound. Comprising of Colin Laughland and Krist Moran, their latest outing was put together with the help of some friends, mastered in Quebec and delivered with ornate antique artwork for a fine finish. With a smattering of releases under their belt (a few of which are available here to download for free) and moulded by Scotland's inclement climate they've picked up a trick or two along the way I'm sure.

Sounding honest and often quite fragile these bedroom-tinkering merchants have a penchant for G.Y.B.E. drum loops, TV show preachers and other extraneous noise to colour their sound. The topography of their current release is a blend of organic instrumentation (guitar, cello, and piano to name a few) diffused by soothing atmospheric pastels prone to bouts of brooding tension – a journey that traverses subtle sonic plains awash with intrigue and sadness to form an emotionally complex work. Containing a few re-workings of old songs to boot, it's a step up and a fresh dynamic, with old ingredients still present yet varnished and buffed somewhat - it's what you might call a coming of age.

From the beginning an experimental mood is set - the undulating tinny pitch of a miniature pneumatic drill hanging in the void greets us in "The Prelude" - the ghost of a dying guitar from a thousand tracks I don't have to name; and so it begins in earnest. Subtle pastels of emotion gently collide to complete This Can Be Our End. As everything unfurls we are met by a collection of vignettes, delicately constructed, introspective and touching - from skeletal acoustic picking, murmuring drones to jittery, fractured noise amidst pondering guitar lines and background hum.

At times echoing understated exhalations of Justin Robert and resolving quickly to a doodled Sigur Rós outtake, the musical colour evolves like oil on water. From "Waiting For The Angel On The Riverbed" sounding like a simmering didgeridoo to the organ, moaning strings and subfusc hum of "In a well 1" we are treated to what is at times part downtempo croi de coeur, part broodingly textured tonal wash. They describe their music as sounding like little tin hearts being scraped on a wall - apt to a point and nicely put if I may say so. Given definite evidence that their sound has matured, the compositions appear more considered; a depth exists that raises the bar and moves away from their previous 'demo tape' vibe.

The incandescent "Sometimes I Forget About You" glimmers with hope like a morning sunrise, and so too does the amiable plucking of "I Love You" (everyone...ahhh!). In turn, the band delicately strums the heart strings with tracks like "In A Well (Reprise)," which at the midpoint kind of sounds like Gizmo from the Gremlins movie singing in the distance. "Maple Leaf Tears" follows suit with the blubbering of an emotional bible-basher, making way for ominous ivories and reverberating high-pitched effects; fade to black and it's a wrap that ends in melancholy and tear thievery.

Accentuated with a sense of earnestness, many tracks here are strangely endearing. De Trop have upped the ante with this one, the craftsmanship is pristine when compared with previous outings. An unassuming gem that's a treat for tired ears with gentle washes of sound and enigmatic electronic embellishments, it makes for a sublime and peaceful experience. Subtle shifting patterns and a delicate gradient of instruments like drifting stanzas of a broken dream - a definite progression yet a feeling pervades they've yet to fully flourish and realise their potential.

Overall it feels more like a cornucopia of ideas cast like die than a fluid conceptual collection, but as far as the music goes, there are some quaint tunes here, with the much improved production definitely a step in the right direction. However, there's room for something more - the trademark sound serves them well, but something to bolster the tenuous fabric would cement the deal; whatever the case their next move will definitely be an interesting one. For a collection of non-intrusive musical sketches it wears the crest well - but don't expect more than that for now. In all, a winsome release that's pregnant with the promise of more yet to come.

-James Crossan


released November 24, 2008

all songs written, recorded and performed by de trop


'prelude' / 'this kiss' / 'sometimes i forget about you' and 'this can be our end' written and performed by de trop and ryan scott.

cello parts for 'in a well' written and performed by patricia craig.

vocals/noises in 'the hole in my heart' - jodie pyper and scott pyper

album mastered by harris newman @ greymarket mastering, montreal, CA



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