Monthly Journal - Thomas Truax Album Review

Thomas Truax - Photo: Andrew Werner
Thomas Truax
Photo: Andrew Werner

Album Review

The first and last time I saw Thomas Truax he had stepped from inside the Oporto bar in Leeds where he was playing and onto the pavement outside. He had left his assortment of home-made instruments, their assumed personalities and discordant sounds on the Oporto stage and was out there on a cold Tuesday night in March, performing with all his might for startled passers-by. He was a whirling maelstrom of action time and vision, an inventor, storyteller and artist caught in the thrall of his own spell. Truax seemed to have cast himself in the role of the musical outsider, a strange, unique being whose persona and sound had stepped beyond the circumference of musical convention. He was unlike most anything else you would see and hear.

Using this solitary experience of Thomas Truax as your barometer it is therefore occasionally difficult to reconcile it with the much more orthodox sound of Monthly Journal. You suspect his self-created Hornicator, Stringaling and Backbeater are all still in there somewhere (he plays everything on the record) but for this his sixth studio album they are gently nudged aside by more traditional instrumentation and ordinary song structures. As the album title suggests the twelve songs which span this recording each equate to an individual month of the year. The year in question is 2011, a pivotal one in Truaxs life as he first lost his father, then his lover and finally his residency in the United Kingdom, and each month/song reflects his ever changing mood and contrasting emotions within the wider context of fluctuating world events. The Royal Wedding vies for attention with the inner city blues of last years riots as Truaxs own world falls apart.

But it would be deceptive to see this record as a work of introspective despondency. It is moreover one of personal catharsis, a vehicle upon which Truax was able to travel to his own salvation. It is ultimately full of hope and redemption. Whilst it does borrow heavily from Brian Eno (Midnight in August is surely the bastard child of his Backwater and St. Elmos Fire), Jim White (Everythings Gone Halloween wouldnt have been out of place on Wrong Eyed Jesus) and Scott Walker (Grandmothers Advice) and in doing so loses much of Truaxs originality, there are equally moments of delicate, personal beauty (Lost On The Moon In June and A Gold Star For Miss July) which raise this record beyond that of mere derivation but without ever managing to crest the rise of his live performance.

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