Truly great instrumental music is able to create vivid landscapes in the mind of the listener without the added convenience that lyrics provide. The evocative sounds of the Tied + Tickled Trio are powerful enough to transcend geography, time, and memory. On the one hand the music on ?Aelita? is profoundly modern, but on the other, it bursts with history of a collective musical past, particularly that of Europe and the Americas. Elements of jazz, reggae, old world folk, and modern electronica all find their way into the Trio?s mesmerizing stew. While there are many recognizable components of the band?s sound, the overall product is profoundly unique.
Three variations of the title track ?Aelita? appear at the beginning, middle, and end of the album and set the tone for everything else. These songs rely on xylophone, glockenspiel, and mellotron to create dark, music box style pieces. Elements of these tracks appear throughout the five other tracks on the disc, both in terms of instrumentation and musical style. This mix is especially apparent on the song ?Tamaghis.? This particular song could be a 70s dub reggae track that has done its fair share of time travel. Recalling ?Aelita,? the lead melodic instrument is a xylophone. The trademark background dub bass is rendered electronically, bringing a slice of modernity to the older rhythms.
?A Rocket Debris Cloud Drifts? is another amazing track from this set. Never is the delineation between new and old so apparent, yet so well-matched. In this piece, what sounds like pipe organ plays over fragmented electronic jazz beats. The organ sounds are slow-paced and melancholy, but the beats underneath are tense and staccato. This instrumental juxtaposition gives the song a dual sense of calm and urgency. The entire song plays out in this battle between old sounds and conventions and new techniques and styles with no one part ever fully dominating.
By combining some of the conventions of today?s electronic music with sounds deeply rooted in the past, the Tied + Tickled Trio makes an album that is all at once recognizable and alien to the ears. Obviously, the group has a fondness for many generations of music, but they never seem to pass judgment on what is superior, preferring instead to create music where several styles exist on an equal plane. These thoughtful connections between old and new ultimately make ?Aelita? a fresh and exciting body of music.
9/10 -- Matt Blackall (24 July, 2007)