Ornithophobia is the third album from experimental jazz trio, Troyka. Following on from their last recording, Live at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which showed they could adapt their wilful experimentalism to other formats, the trio – keyboardist Kit Downes, guitarist Chris Montague and drummer Joshua Blackmore make their first outing for Naim Jazz, the sound of the Trio, 2015-style.
Still, it’s almost incongruous to describe it as a jazz album as during the course of Ornithophobia the band move smoothly through soundtracks and soundscapes, with nods to rock, hip-hop, math, prog, latin, blues and plenty in between, sometimes at the same time and sometimes within the same pieces, as Downs keys lines jump and pop one juncture, ripple and purr at another, while guitarist Montague – whose fear of birds soundtracks the record, spills his spidery runs all over the songs, which are always propelled (not always forwards, often sideways) by the incredible, precise drumming of Blackmore.
Throughout the record, from opener Arcades, with its jumpy, anxious riffs which ebb and flow, constantly reinventing itself, ( recurring theme) through the many nods towards Zappa, the constantly changing time signatures and the experimentation within to the tumbling, echoey beauty of album closer Seahouses its an exhilarating listen.
Album highlights though come in the form of title track, the schizophrenic Ornithophobia, and the wonky blues of The General which alternately Marches along and spins around. The band Django Bates bassist Petter Eldh to the producing helm for the record, and between him and Troyka, they’ve produced a gem.