For an audience born and raised on lyrics (no matter how banal they may be), instrumental albums have an inherent disadvantage. They, in the sheer quality and intrigue of their music alone, must attempt to accomplish what a singer and his band can do together -- that is, pull listeners in and keep them there. This is the challenge that avant-garde folk duo Triple Burner face in their self-titled debut, and one that they do a surprisingly good job of overcoming. It's only guitar and drums (plus the very occasional bowed glockenspiel), but it still moves along quickly. Harris Newman's fingerpicked effected acoustic guitar is hypnotic and warm as it circles through Eastern- and Western-inspired arpeggios, pausing to focus on certain patterns or ideas before continuing on to something else. He pushes and pulls the strings to tell the stories of solitary travelers, walking across the dusty ground with cowboy hats or turbans, crouching at campfires with strangers and looking into the great expanse as the snare echoes around them. And it is the drums, actually, that keep Triple Burner from fading into the realm of background music. Bruce Cawdron stays on the front edge of the beat, urging it forward with subtle desperation, coyly playing with the rhythms of Newman's guitars, forcing him to make things interesting. Even the nearly 14-minute-long "The Pulse of Parc Ex" stays relatively fresh because of the percussive variation. Unfortunately, without the aid of vocals the songs begin to sound very much the same, and the fact that each one consists of long, repeating parts doesn't help in distinguishing them from one another. Triple Burner haven't perfected the instrumental album -- everything is still far too much the same -- but they've definitely distanced themselves from other, lesser artists who might only find themselves as mood-enhancing department-store music or not even played at all. It may be repetitive; it's certainly not boring.
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AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown