Depending on your reference, the Russian word Troika‘ can mean a set of three politicians or judges, or a trio of horses pulling the same sled. In the case of Christchurch’s atmospheric rockers of the same name, they are three musical talents pulling each other into an expansion of what they are capable of.
The creation of the Troika sound is experimental and organic. The division of personalities result in an interesting collision of styles, a synergy of the diverse elements earth, air and fire, with which they paint their sonic landscapes. Originally from France, Dorian Lemonnier is the fire. Arriving on these shores without a drum kit, he placed an ad in a music shop that brought him to Alan Kang’s attention.
Dave Webber (earth) is the punk guy everyone would like to know. His bushman beard conceals technical skills, subsonic nous and possibly several microphones. He plays bass and is responsible for the recording, mixing and mastering of Troika’s recorded output. To date that is the splendid 2011 album ‘Prototype, and their early 2014 EP release ‘Zero-One.
Completing the trio is Alan Kang – the air. When you need to breath, musically, you look to your rhythm section to give you oxygen. Webber and Lemonnier lock in, giving Kang space to slide and revolve. For him, the idea of a trio is a liberating one.
“The space you can get is very appealing. It also gives Dorian a platform to explore the shape and dynamic of the songs more, rather than just holding down a beat,” he says.
“I don’t think we have worked out a method for writing, I think it is a mixture of jamming and pieces.”
“Personally, I like playing with effects and coming up with a cool sound and that suggests a structure,” Webber chimes in.
“We all try to use our instruments to compliment each other. Im interested in making the elements we have sing; maybe use an unusual cymbal dynamic across what Alan is doing,” adds Lemonnier.
Their songs have a shade and light described by Kang as an internal atmospheric landscape. The are often long – Ghost In The Machine for instance reaches out beyond the quarter hour mark. Themes are varied but venture to the far reaches of the universe and things closer to hand.
Webber is Troika’s secret weapon. Taking charge of the recording process he has guided the band in the creation of their recorded output. The basis of both the album and EP was live tracking of the drums then guitar, bass and (limited) vocal layering, mostly involving a lot of effects.
“But it’s not about having a pedal board, one metre by one metre. It’s about having effects to get those huge sounds, again it is just guitar, bass and drums. For us, what is appealing about music is, an artist will do a painting and then it’s finished, whereas music is interpretive.”