Trad Attack by Trad Attack
The number of musical ensembles that mix Estonian work song, samples with bagpipes, Jew’s harp,virtuouso 12 guitar playing and jazz rock drumming must be very small.
TRAD Attack are an Estonian group that take all of these disparate elements. With three musicians, and a soundscape designer, the music on TRAD Attack is understandably odd, and takes some getting used to, but the employment of work song rhythms underlying the drums and percussion of Tonu Tubli, the 12 string guitar of Jalmar Vabarna, and the multi-instrumentalist Sandra Sillamaa on Estonian bagpipe, whistles, Jew’s Harp, vocals and Soprano Saxophone is often inspired, sometimes rocks along and always offers something new and interesting to the listener.
Over the five tracks, we have tone poems, studies in pure technique, and sound samples that are seamlessly sewn throughout the fine fabric of this music. The EP starts with ‘Precious Cream’ which uses samples and Sillamaa’s vocal, and bagpipe to fine effect. The drums and guitar that come in after 45 seconds launch a bagpipe solo that uses a different type of tonality and note choice to traditional Scottish bagpipes, and it doesn’t have the softness of Uiliean pipes, but there is a definite plaintive tone to it, and the dexterity that goes into the part is quite impressive.
Track two ‘Thanks’, is more of a showcase for Jalmar Vabarna and the drums, the playing, dextrous, buoyant and joyful provides a bed for Jew’s Harp and the many changes in mood and musical direction show both technique and imagination, whilst the third track, ‘Moon’ has a more plaintive, meditative tone, almost a study in desolation with whistles and bagpipes to the fore, whilst Sillimaa’s sweet and rhythmic voice is used to fine effect, whilst track 4 ‘Rain’ uses jazz like saxophone refrains and unison playing with all of the instruments to fine effect. This track is probably the least sonically interesting, but the spirited playing and interplay also shows a serious debt to modal jazz. Closing track ‘Thighs’ starts with Jew’s Harp chasing a vocals and building to a fine rhythmic crescendo.
So, although this EP will not immediately appeal to that many people, it is a definite grower, fusing fine technique to an open minded approach to sound production and music making. If you thought that Estonian music and bagpipes weren’t for you, this is a release that could change your mind.