For once the press info is spot on. This is promoted as “wild, whacky, proggy and crazy” and that it exactly what it is. The band photo of two disfigured faces pressed up against a car window nicely transmits the whacky bit, as does the cover art featuring the head of an aged ninja with a Fu Manchu moustache and some unspecified drugs flooding his brain circuits. The music is messy and seemingly untamed. It seems that with Traps you get what you are promised, and that’s always a satisfying experience.
Traps is a side project of two guys from Ohhms. The Fighter is their second release (the first was a split EP with Oriza). But don’t expect to hear doom or sludge here. If you insist on a label, math rock is the best I can offer you. The band’s style of music is very difficult to pin down, but math rock is probably the most useful tag. With regard to band references, the duo’s sound is close to the music of bands like Helmet, Shellac, At The Drive In and The Mars Volta, but all jumbled up and mixed together like different stacks of cards. So, if you like math rock and the bands mentioned above, this might well put an appreciative grin on your face. And this, no more, no less, might just be the reaction the band are aiming for.
The Fighter is characterized by ever-changing tempos and vocal styles, irregular stops and starts and unnerving rhythms. Cowboy, the first of the three tracks that make up the EP, starts out Helmet-esque, but soon turns into post hardcore a la Milemarker, then gets dreamier and more spacious, only to change course again, and again, and again. The fact that the song lacks the musical equivalent of a leitmotif makes it quite a challenging listen. Cyborg, the second track, has at least something like a chorus and recurring bits which serve as a point of orientation in all that chaos, something to cling on to. Closer The Count has some dramatic overtones in its beginning and continues in the style of Cowboy and Cyborg, but with an unexpected addition – a passage with only vocals, adding a bit of vulnerability.
The Fighter is a somewhat demanding listen, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While challenging, the sheer craziness of math rock is appealing in its own way. It’s also difficult to play and even more difficult to reproduce. So, kudos there. Seeing this live might be quite an experience.