British post-rock trio Three Trapped Tigers utilized Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies, a series of cards containing simple phrases intended as ideas for artists struggling with writer's block, during the compositional process for their 2016 album Silent Earthling. After the album was recorded, group member Tom Rogerson (an improvisational pianist and composer in his own right) began working with Eno, who provided several more ideas, including pulling chord sequences out of a hat and juxtaposing MIDI and physical sounds. On the resulting album, Finding Shore, Rogerson is simply credited with "notes" and Eno with "sounds," with no further explanation, leaving it up to the listener to guess what went on in the studio. Like Ryuichi Sakamoto's async, Finding Shore seems to find magic in everyday objects and scenes. The pieces have scenic titles like "Idea of Order at Kyson Point" and "Marsh Chorus," and they all serve as simple yet surreal sound paintings, exploring minimal melodies and atmospheric elements. Early highlight "Motion in Field" features gorgeous piano melodies floating over a current of soft rhythmic glitches. "Red Slip" seems to reprise this idea, but at a much faster tempo, and with more spacious melodies. "On-ness" is a solo piano piece which beings by tiptoeing around a few quiet notes before centering on a pattern and becoming faster and more intense. The closed, constrained "March Away" brings to mind John Cage's prepared piano experiments, while "Eastern Stack" is much more airy and open, with effects transforming the notes so they reverberate like zithers. While pieces like "An Iken Loop" are solemn and structured, "Marsh Chorus" and "Chain Home" are more abstract and seem to float off toward the stars. The appropriately calming "Rest" ends this unpredictable album of wonders and curiosities.
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Review by Paul Simpson