Trigger Cut: Rogo – Album Review and Interview
LP | CD | DL
German three-piece art-rock noise-unit Trigger Cut dump their bloody, new album, Rogo, onto 2021. An album providing living proof that by turning the atomic structure of mammoth tusks into peanut butter, the unparalleled triptych of guitar, bass, drums, is an approach to rock that can silence most scumbags with avalanches of equipment at their disposal.
Planet earth collapses in on itself as seismic, sonic booms of squawking, squealing acid-feedback baths, gush and erode and shock away the monolithic pillars upkeeping the modern world’s simple-civil, lace-straight moral dogmas. Like Cobain on the precipice of collapse, strapped into a Victorian dentist chair with Yow handling the humble tools. An unearthing of spirits that scream until the jawbones are pulled apart. The simple and the painful things, during the slime of the times, are the most important things to cling onto.
Or, if you want the album version of this; check out Stuttgart’s Trigger Cut. Their new album Rogo ticking all those crucial boxes and more; erupting to greater standards of oddity and darkness and attack upon every villainous, musical turn. A body of brilliant work belonging to Shellac and Sabbath equally.
LTW: How does this kind of noise come about in the studio…what is your approach to writing?
DW: “Well, writing songs and recording them are separate affairs in our case. When it comes to studio time we´re very focused and know what to play to let´s say 95%…The rest are only minor adjustments with the overdubs of the guitar or the vocals – so studio time is no creative time as such. As we said before, writing songs is different. Ralph (vocals and guitar) mostly comes up with a guitar pattern sometimes even with a whole song. He might have an idea of what the song is supposed to sound like but he never urges us to play it this or that way. So while he is playing his guitar pattern we start to jam to these ideas sometimes from a completely different angle – depending on the way we perceive this particular song idea and how it sounds like within our heads. What it finally becomes after our mangling and grinding can be heard on our two releases. Writing songs mostly is a short-time affair, very intense but mostly short…”
The album was recorded on analogue-tape machines. A means of preserving the kernel of the band’s sound, in opposition to the immeasurable amounts of available space; and time; offered by a 16-track. Their bass player, Daniel. W, confirms this kind of approach to enable the group to ”focus on the most important things due to the limitation”, the manual, puzzlement of archaic equipment can foster and infuse in a band’s sound.
With this in mind, solid State drops atom bombs of bass and guitar-shaped walls of sour sound onto a field of rotten corpses because the stench is fucking vile. A dizzying interweaving of elaborate lines, stampede forward as an unpleasant surge of nature. A jaded, jagged, jarring alarm of aggression and guerilla-angularity, forever feeding into this splendid, neo-psyche spectrum of juicy, woozy effects and sadistic lunacy groove. They ooze like puss from wounds and the eyes explode into dazzling oodles of black tape and shattered glass fits of wild, mechanical laughter.
The ancient ways of operating with analogue equipment is an appropriate means of capturing the band’s raw-meat nerve-blending energy. Because it doesn’t cover or compromise the purpose of the music as developed by three people…by three instruments (excluding vocal duties handled by guitarist, Ralph), three voracious, carnivorous entities, unstoppable and interlocking. But all working toward one summit, enduring primarily one way of working with one goal to strive for: the survival of the songs. The album as being greater than the sum of its parts; whereby the point of the noise made is one engendered when all the crucial ingredients are poured into this functional, crucible.
With the tantrum of a titanium tidal wave, threatening to devour everything its crashes unfold onto, tracks such as track like Coffin Digger or the mammoth Transmitter, each proceed to pivot and pulsate and push the dials into the red end of the spectrum. Everything deft and daft and working as one.
The former is an exorcism of battered, frazzled, fidgety guitars, dismantled time and space signatures dictated by a mountainous wall of riffs carved out of slabs of both stone and steel, melting into one, brilliant pot and spill onto neat surfaces. Distorted, ruptured voices of headsman bass guitars are dragged through the dirt by their own medieval hood. Bloodshed of thick strings like threads of lace into layers of leather, detuned to the extremity they turn to boiled straws of rusty buckets of spaghetti, spilling and littering the deepest bowels of hell.
The latter is a ceaseless swelling of manic, guitar spirals and supercharged rhino riffage tricks. Everything bends and everything breaks, but always blending and leaping out from a storm of cacophonous noise, amongst a dramatic, dynamic march of strange shapes as the rockin’, disturbed dislocated-bones of post-punk dynamics rip up the roots of all the streets are built upon. A remorseless beast of insatiable, catastrophic energy, teased from behind bars, then unleashed into the wild.
Rogo is the work of a band enduring a succession of struggles (a cancelled tour; Brexit and Pandemic regularly rearing their grotesque heads yet again). But rather than wallow in ponds of self-loathing and angst against the entire universe; rather than stagnate on planes of degradation; the group marches on.
Around half of what we hear was composed with their previous drummer, Sascha, who left in late Spring 2020. The other half of the songs were written by their replacement; Mat; who joined in early summer. The introduction of Mat into the Trigger Cut fold, although fortunate to have found him, was greeted by a tossing-out of the plans to tour the UK. But rather than sit around and mope about not reaching British shit-stained soil; they decided to write ”as many songs as we could for the upcoming release”. And finally, they succeeded in finishing their latest album, just as the last lockdown shut itself over the last weekend of their studio sessions. The result of which, in spite of the album, we can all enjoy live, soon enough…
LTW: Will the tour be resuming once lockdown lifts and what else is in store for the future?
DW: “When the tour had been planned the Brexit still seemed far away and a pandemic of this scale hardly anyone could foresee. Now the Brexit has become reality and the cultural interchange with the UK, unfortunately, isn’t as easy anymore as it used to be before. The Covid pandemic still isn´t over yet as well so we sit and wait. Needless to say that we´d really love to play in the UK. We hope that we can revive our plans of touring in France which also was initially planned for late 2020…”
LTW: How does this album progress from the previous one?
DW: “This actually is a question someone from outside the band could answer way easier, I suppose. There was no different approach to writing songs. The rehearsal facility respectively studio was the same. Only minor parts of the studio equipment had changed between the two releases…so I guess our mindset was slightly different. The tension and anxiety caused by this pandemic had to be released musically to some extent. I guess this somehow is the reason why people classify this release as being more aggressive and angry than our first LP…”
Those familiar with their last LP from 2019, Buster, will recognise the familiar Trigger Cut tropes, aggressive and angry indeed. Yet it’s a progression, like it is for everybody, for contextual reasons; conducive to the underlying turmoil sedimented in the skin of each twist and turn, ascent and decline of the songs. More sonic depictions of multiple personalities in states of disorder and disarray than a compound of catchy-little no-wave tunes. They remain injected with a fresh sense of trajectory, impact, and malice. Sustained and survive through acts of making itself known through a distinctly vicious prism of brutal, psychological trauma; a fine way to exert and expulse the manic, urge to rock; the yearning to burn what the band position between: a noise symbolic of the poison that causes the crops to go against nature.
One riff melds into another; soon joined by the voice of another instrument wrestling its way to the forefront of the analogous whole. Oxcart stabs and probes and pulls apart one limb from the other. Hooray Hooray is a remorseless stampede of atonal oddities cascading into each other in the same warzone. Fighting for attention, assertive like a sonic uncoiling, peeling from the hinges of the solid earth, and ferociously, fantastically unwrapping themselves in the middle of this intoxicating, intense, spikey, old mess.
It’s a mess that can be traced back to Ralph’s previous band, Buzz Rodeo, who combusted during a European tour (remember those words?). Rather than give up on his career as a musician in Munich. He decided to work on some songs with Sascha, a friend, and fellow, musician on the scene. Ralph and Daniel discussed forging a new group. Both Daniel and Sacscha’s replacement, Mat; initially involved with the project as session players, decided to remain with the group. Concretising the band’s indubitable toughness and tenacity, combining Rollins Band’s Weight, Big Black’s Lungs, and Membrane’s Muscles, into one hypnotic pot of caustic, fumigating vibrations.
Vibrations that will crumble your skull to putty.
Vibrations that turn water to paint thinner and rip roots from the tender flesh of old, ruptured grounds.
LTW: How long has this band been together and how did you form?
DW: When Ralph´s previous band Buzz Rodeo fell apart; we had a little chat on the phone about different things, nothing special. He told me that Buzz Rodeo had folded and he asked me if I knew a bass player who currently had no band and probably could meet his expectations for a new project. We had not been in contact for a while since the recording of the last Buzz Rodeo album was months ago. We knew each other from two previous other bands we had been playing in together and of course from the multiple recording sessions we had for the Buzz Rodeo releases. So I suggested to fill the bass gap until he would find an adequate musician to join him for his new band. End of story was that I stayed.
And it’s a good job he did. Because the noise is distinctly their own. A composite of all spirits summoned up from the instrument’s pit. The encouraging, bludgeoning, upcoming, structural shift. Every instrument has its rightful place; important in occupying a certain, sonic territory; a pyramid brick integral when applied to the supportive force and flow of the next, momentous, musical moment. Like Polvo’s Tilebreaker and Pixie’s Subbacultcha sharing the same bolt, channelling the same shot of voltage, causing the jugular veins to jump ‘n’ bulge ‘n eventually: burst.
Nutcracker nears total collapses. Vicious exhalations of black gas into sealed rooms. Concrete wheels bulldozing all they come across making giant lives appear small. And Fireworks is swimming pools of pure space turn to soil. Vengeful and secreting venom and vinegar, one instrument throwing fuel onto the other, one instrument providing the dreaded match. Restlessly it digs in the dirt. Burying the carcass of a twisted history behind them. Towers of tumultuous spectacle and gladiatorial foreplay are performed between big-bollocks splinter-finger bass and brutal blocks of choppy guitars, both carrying a carcass in a sack; both chasing the vocals into the maze to the ominous, reptilian mechanics of tribal, percussive patterns.
Shattered to a million pieces as skin drips from the fists of love, dropping into Cobain’s cup of pennyroyal tea, Way Down The Border is equal parts Tuffskins by Hammerhead and Roadkill by Head of David. Metallic hums and buzzes of melodies and locust-swarm chaos-clouds of feedback raise upward from the cold ground. Sometimes lost in a monstrous gestalt entirely their own, but soon end up being swallowed by each other and finally: found as part of the wonderful whole. Engulfing all obstacles, waiting to impale all that they encounter, surmounting all blockages with a rotten, torrent of 3-piece sludge-punk energy. That impenetrable proto-grunge, savage-garage grooves. Those corrosive, post-punk experiments with alchemy and intellect, angst and art, lost in their own loose heads. Savage, rampant, and damaged.
Damaged in the best way possible. Do It Yourself Damaged.
LTW: You seem to be adamant that the band is fully DIY and only released on Bandcamp…what is the reason for this philosophy?
To be precise we have to admit that we are not fully DIY. The artwork of the LP is the work of an extremely talented guy who is a professional graphic designer but who generally doesn´t focus on band artwork on a regular basis. So while designing our latest LP, stickers, T-Shirts, etc, the whole range so to speak, Trigger Cut somehow became his baby a little bit as well. Same thing with touring as we have a booker of course. But when it comes to songwriting, recording, public relations, etc. we are DIY. But nonetheless, we are open-minded enough to know that there are labels out there who share the same spirit as we do. Sometimes we’d really appreciate a collaboration with a record company as it would mean for Ralph to have more time for the other important things in life – cats and gardening, for instance…
Whilst cats and gardening are essential; Regular Funk opens with the unravelling of a barbed wire knot. An equally essential song on the album.
A total disentanglement of each instrument, a miraculous dismantling of restless, kinetic tonality. Abrasive and caustic like discordant drops of battery acid on the tip of one’s dropping tongue. Melodies melt and change shape. Busy, brutally cruel, brains-to-paste bass builds walls that backward, acute and, strangulated guitars rip down right behind them. Thudding and punching their way through a stretch of shit, as a playful, deranged parade of drums flatten everything that should fall before their presence of the shotgun into the stomach at close range.
YESSSSS Brother is Naked Raygun covering Gang of 4, about to be sucked into a crack of a towering barricade; a vortex soon to enlarge, within which everything falls. Ferocious jolts and delightful slices of white-light guitars are heard suturing a wound together with a soldering iron kit. A demented nest of electrified riffs, more volcanic ash than chordal shapes, wrestle with themselves all convulsed, screeching-machine structures and boisterous, haunted-robot enthrallment. A fast, clattering of maverick drums melts metal into a fierce mix of boiling liquid, popping and piercing and pinching and poking themselves through one ear to the other. My dick splits and my fucking eyes explode.
Audible melodic notes bulge from the muscles of a brilliant thumps bass guitar; fizzy, tremors of trebly guitars, laugh as they are flayed alive and tumultuous, pulverising, jumps of levitating, pagan bass are burned at the stake with a smile on their face. Heavy like Carrying their own crucifix up a deceivingly steep hill; sloping upwards into the tapered prongs of tomorrow. Notice the creeping stench of electric currents to a plate of dead flesh.
The band is savvy to the notions of labels, and the kinds of prospects such an interest, or investment; could garner upon being signed to one. They would absolutely fit alongside the crop of your Amphetamine Reptile or Alternative Tentacles roster. Yet being signed is a double-edged sword. One which ties your hands and cuts your hands off. One which slashes the shackles and enables exposure on potentially unprecedented levels according to the cottages of the microcosm. But being a wise bunch of noise-goblins; to be cradled in the arms of a record company ”would have meant to give away the most precious thing we possibly possess: The freedom to write and to release songs the way we want it”.
For the time being; Trigger Cut, remain ours.
Ryan Walker is a writer from Bolton. His archive can be found online here.