The title of A Troop of Echoes‘ latest LP is about to become a play on words, as The Longest Year on Record is scheduled for release on vinyl this fall. The album has already been making waves in the Providence R.I. harbor throughout the summer. Amusingly, the “summer camp t-shirt” contains images of ghosts, and is well-suited for the new season as well.
Start with the last track for a swift induction into the band’s new sound. At its core, A Troop of Echoes is a four-piece post-rock band distinguished by its emphasis on jazzy saxophone. But this album also features a support cast of 19 musicians and choral singers. When the expected post-rock elements are stripped away, one hears the band behind the band, and afterwards, one is better able to hear them when they play with the band. This closing piece, “Pure Alexia (Is Silent In This Room)” welds miked piano to the sax, which in turn invites other horns to a peaceful party. In like fashion, the all-too-brief “Kerosene” begins with vibraphone before adding cello and violin, producing a sound worthy of the Erased Tapes label. On “Constellation”, the strings are integrated with the regular cast, but are far less apparent.
The cover image is well-chosen, as it displays a band headed for the sky, with no intention of coming down. One has to flip the cover to see that the rollercoaster does indeed descend. A cloud – if one can call it that – inhabits the upper region of the photo: naught to fear, just a wisp. The bulk of the album reflects this coaster, focusing on the thrills. The saxophone takes the lead, playing over the drums, guitar and bass; but without the latter, the album would simply be jazz; the combination works well. The finest moments include the drum chorale that closes the opening track; the light explosion at the end of “Broadway Ghost”; and the finale of the title track, which is where the singers finally come in. The more dynamic contrast, the better. While this may have been the longest year on record for the band, we suspect that it’s been a good one. With this many friends, it’s hard to go wrong. (Richard Allen)