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Trouble Ensemble: In The Water

Billed as avant-gospel, Trouble Ensemble is a tough nut to crack. Their album In The Water came out in June of this year and to say this is a hard listen is a bit of an understatement. As such this has been difficult review to write partly due to my inexperience with American gospel as well as my slight trepidation toward some forms of avant-garde music. Nevertheless, here it goes.

The disc is divided into three parts beginning with ‘Part I: To Trouble’. The first track “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round” begins with acapella vocals backed by unusual dissonant sounds. Disharmonic piano and squelching sax lines further the band’s descent into discord. Narrative spoken word vocals act as a sermon protesting against injustice and slavery. Somber violin and piano serve the pretty “Give Me Jesus” but I found the narration distracting to the music. Elements of chamber music add to the avant-garde approach. The slow gospel of “Steal Away” is both melodic and discordant led by saxophone and piano. The song’s avant latter half demonstrates the band’s use of disharmonic chaos. The haphazard improvisation in “Ezekiel Saw the Wheel” is a little too bizarre for my tastes but the band turns it around with the spry piano work in “Precious Lord”. The rest of the tracks are just as unpredictable as seemingly benign melodies might turn into a cacophony of whacky sounds.

An unusual album to say the least, In The Water will likely be too eclectic for casual gospel fans. My only suggestion is to try before you buy.

An Edgetone Records release.

Track Listing:
Part I: To Trouble
1. Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round (Traditional Protest Song)
2. Give Me Jesus
3. Steal Away
4. Ezekiel Saw the Wheel
5. Precious Lord
Part II: To The River
6. Wade in the Water
7. I’ve Got Peace Like a River pt. 1
8. I’ve Got Peace Like a River pt. 2
9. Deep River
Part III: To Freedom
10. Amazing Grace/There is a Balm in Gilead
11. Amen

Added: October 23rd 2018
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Bandcamp Page
Hits: 1060
Language: english

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