(All Album Reviews by Trane)
After Jaxon's eviction from the Generator (for obscure disagreement about his participation in one of those exploitation career overviews), how was the trio to go on with one of their most noticeable members absent and the sonic void bound to happen? Would you believe that Jaxon is hardly missed? I mean this album is sooooo good (in the songwriting and overall execution) that Jaxon's absence goes barely noticed. Actually I'd hate to think how perfect Trisector would've been, had Jaxon been part of it.. Yes!!! That good!!! All fears of another average Present album cast aside, Trisector is actually excellent enough to rival Godbluff or Still Life.
With the ever solid Guy Evans still as inventive and right on the dot as he's ever been, Peter clearly kept some of his best songs for the group (not sure it was the case with Present) and he's particularly in fine form vocally (the best album vocal performance along with Incoherence), he's obviously taking more space left empty with his electric guitar (never his strongest instrument - the instrumental surf music Zep-esque “Hurly Burly” and the punkish “Drop Dead”), but the album is clearly Hugh Banton's. Not only is he playing bass guitar brilliantly, but his organ parts are absolutely brilliant and shinning like a thousand suns. Indeed he fills even more of the void left by Jaxon's exit. To make a point, most likely the group avoided the usual logo and chose to pass it as the triangle present on the front artwork and throughout most of the booklet's pages.
After the unusual but fun “Hurly Burly”, Banton hammers away a very complex riff pattern that fits the song title perfectly. “Interference Patterns” is so off-beat, that it indeed can be mistaken as an interference, Hammill's verses reassuring us we're not in some crazy KB-dominated progmetal band, while Peter's chorus brings complete madness, the middle section veering obtusely complex. What a pure nightmare and what a contrast with the calmness of “The Final Reel”, which is maybe the low point of the album, better suited for a solo album, IMHO. “Lifetime” is the first masterpiece of this album, Banton's organ resonating with Hammill's quiet electric guitar, the song gradually picking up solemnity through Peter's superb lyrics (‘ceremonial quicksand’ is a FIND!!) and great melody.
The punkish powers of “Drop Dead” (just the title is punk enough) would've been better suited after “The Final Reel”, rather than “Lifetime”, but nevertheless it gives the proper boot in the butt for the rest of the album to glide ever so smoothly, even though it's not an easy ride home. As much a stark contrast DD was, wait till you get to “Only In A Whisper”, which starts on Hammill's electric piano, while Evans provides much background for Banton coming in like sonar (keeping the length), preceding Peter's superb solemn voice. Another stunner. “All That Before” returns to the beefy rock of the hard&fast/slow&quiet alternation of tracks, with Hammill's fat guitar riffs echoeing away Banton's heavy organ lines, while Peter is quite talkative and an absolutely whacky ending in chaos. But you haven't heard anything yet as the 12-min+ “Over The Hill” - the peak of the album, starting a bit slowly like the Jaws-like move from Hugh, than Peter taking the song on the “Killer” trail (the riff around the 8th minute), but ultimately the track grows quickly to the monster-like ‘Lighthouse’ (with Hammill showing progress in his electric guitar playing), before dying away slowly. “[We Are] Not Here” starts solemnly on a descending riff then veering a tad dissonant ala “Lemmings”. An absolutely fabulous track, Hammill's voice is overdubbed to create a chorus over the descending riff that is haunting, until a gradual fade-out over train noise, creating a stunning end to the album.
While the previous album had given the same kind of thrills as Trisector on the first two listens, they went quickly away: but for Trisector, these thrills are clinging on and often ceding to admiring shrugs of how close to perfection it is. Sorry Jax, but you're long over with, but hopefully not completely forgotten. Many of these tracks I can't wait to see in concert again.