For all intents and purposes, the trilogy of releases from Traun called “The Lilac Moon,” “The Black Metal Princess” and “Escape from Spa Nine” make up three parts of a full album. Each of them are roughly 20 minutes long and are part of the same story line. Yes this is a concept album…or albums. This is one of those times that I appreciate the music from a talent perspective but it’s not something I would seek out to listen to. Let me explain.
The music is very much like a soundtrack and while many of you listen to movie soundtracks and such, I’ve never found them interesting. These albums are far weirder than your typical soundtrack however. Traun is a project led by drummer Dave Murray. Murray is fucking fearless which I respect more than I can say. The music really goes EVERYWHERE you can imagine. Take elements of Melvins, Mr Bungle, and Devin Townsend and merge them with jazz fusion and world music and you have a rough idea of what to expect.
The problem I have is that the songs are quite brief and by the time I have an idea of what Murray is up to, he has moved onto the next track. It’s a tricky path for the listener but that can be part of the charm. It does help if you have the synopsis of each part and even each song so you have an idea of what Murray is going for. There are times when that doesn’t matter since there are some very entertaining tunes. Whether it’s the blitz of “The Crystal Caverns” or the orchestral folk of “Aervallis” (though that song does get heavy too) or the lounge jazz of “Inn of the Dreaded Hippy” or the death metal attack of “Brig to Nowhere,” “The Lilac Moon” seems to go EVERYWHERE.
And that’s just the first EP/album! Granted some of the pieces are heavy on sound effects and too brief to get my attention. “The Black Metal Princess” proves to be even stranger at times. “Preparing the Pit” is avant garde black metal but the very next track “A Stranger in the Landing” is acoustic jazz. And then the album goes thru even more contortions. Like I said, I love all of these styles…but they happen without warning and seemingly without enough time to develop.
The third part is “Escape from Spa Nine” and yes it is another wide variety of styles. The problem I have with it is that the ending is not a climax. “Flight of the Water Baron” is as close to a climax as you get before two oddities close the trilogy out. The final track being 39 seconds of jazzy keys, “Mel’s Home.” It really leaves me wondering why. In addition to these three pieces, there’s an album of outtakes that I didn’t get to listen to. So all told there’s a lot of music as far as tracks if not in length.
If you are someone who loves the weird and the wacky, Traun are definitely something you should check out. It’s definitely takes talent and vision to create something like this. For me, it’s just not something I would listen to. But as you know, I am more than happy to recommend something of high quality anyway.