Review: Traum ‘Traum’

Traum (German for dream), are an Italian collective comprised of members from Zu, Fuzz Orchestra, Lento and Zeus! whose track Inner Space premiered in The Sleeping Shaman back in January. The line-up consists of Luca Ciffo  (guitar and bass), Lorenzo Stecconi (guitar), Luca T. Mai (synths and sax) and Paolo Mongardi (drums).

Traum - S/T Artwork
Traum – S/T Artwork

The promotional notes state that Traum ‘creates and shapes its music starting from the dream dimension’ and that the record is the result of ‘almost a month living together in an old farmhouse playing, improvising and sharing their lives and their musical and cultural passions’. This gives the listener the impression that the band are something of a free-form outfit which may prove disconcerting for some, but not yours truly.

Kali Yuga in Hinduism denotes the fourth, shortest and worst of the yuga or world ages that was full of conflict and sin and one that can certainly be deemed applicable to the present day. A drivingly heavy space rock style piece, it’s not totally unlike what you might have gotten from Hawkwind in their ‘70s heyday or even more contemporary artists such as Samsara Blues Explosion. Hardcore punks Hüsker Dü and their psychedelic explorations on tracks such as Hare Krsna from the legendary Zen Arcade album also spring to mind. It really is as good as it sounds and thus the perfect opener.

The space rock flavourings continue with Vimana that in Hindu texts are said to be flying chariots or palaces. One is reminded of the otherworldly kosmische sounds of Ash Ra Tempel and the music to use nonsense hippy parlance is certainly ‘out there’, ‘far out’ and other such dreadfully clichéd terms that make for another superb listening experience in any case.

An aural delight…

Katabasis, meaning a journey to the underworld (in Greek mythology), is far darker and brooding which isn’t too surprising given the track’s frame of reference. At well over nine and a half minutes, it’s the longest number on the album and easily the most unsettling. If the preceding track left you unnerved, then the aforementioned Inner Space will, by comparison, have you dancing. It’s catchy and sonically recalls the kind of catchy early ‘80s new wave/dark wave I absolutely adore, especially those to be found on Dark Entries and Subterranean Records. An aural delight.

 Antarctic Dawn is blissfully mellow, almost ambient sounding with nods to Brian Eno, David Sylvian and Talk Talk’s latter more experimental post-rock works; this then leads seamlessly into Infraterrestrial Dub which is exactly what you’d expect given the title. Having both Al Cisernos’ dub solo work and ORT’s recent re-workings of Maschinenhafen on my radar, I already feel primed to embrace this cool laid-back gem. Possibly not something I’d have felt so open to doing had it not been for the former.

One could make an argument for Erwachen (Awake) initially fitting into the new age genre, though thankfully nothing like the pedestrian tosh that otherwise populates that genre. Tasteful saxophine is instead employed giving the track a classier sexier Boren and the Club of Gore sensibility and resulting in some serious dark noir jazz vibes. Eterno Ritorno (Eternal Return) is jazz fusion/jazz rock par excellence, a little reminiscent of Mahavishnu Orchestra, it also features the album’s sole use of vocals, albeit very briefly. A great way to conclude the record.

Traum‘s debut is the kind of album you’ll find yourself playing repeatedly it’s that intriguing. Whilst I didn’t have any expectations pre review, I was left suitably impressed by the end and I pray to almighty god that this isn’t the last we’ll hear from them. 

Label: Subsound Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Reza Mills