Troller got darker. The Austin-based trio dropped the Katatonia model of their debut for Graphic’s BDSM. It’s a better look. Troller’s (2012) lack of purported heavy metal was disappointing. At it’s best, Graphic is like happening on a snuff film in an old video store, but too often Troller is maudlin. They’re softies.
In Austin, the subcultures are cutthroat. Troller’s Adam Jones has his eggs in several baskets. Not only is he in Troller, a trio with Amber Goers and Justin Goers, Jones plays in S U R V I V E, Thousand Foot Whale Claw, and runs the cultish HoloDeck Records. Jones rockets from ambient drone to stellar minimalism all wrangled by HoloDeck’s roster of obsessives.
“There is no place I would rather be right now. I like all of the over-saturation of bands, and the general apathy of the locals. It’s very competitive and keeps everyone playing sharp.” Jones is a member in the self-described “synth nerd culture” of Austin. The city trains Troller, and in the chummy Texas way where everyone can appreciate the trio.
Troller, like the rest of HoloDeck, are synth nerds. The trio is composed of Amber on bass then Justin and Adam, each, on a synthesizer. Troller describes themselves as “darkwave metal.” No qualms there, though let’s emphasize the darkwave over the metal. Still, on Graphic the bass is leaden. It is consistent against Jones and Goers’ versatility.
“Sundowner” is the song that Troller advertises themselves with. Bleak Americana, rose-tinted like Lana Del Rey, summoned by a chugging bass and drum machine. The synthesizers are restrained, but tilt “Sundowner” towards Pop. 1280, even Laughing Hyenas’ swagger. Of course, Troller doesn’t have the pedestrian male kvetch. Amber Jones can sing.
Troller’s like Beach House. Amber is a vehicle for crossover success, with the vocal luster of Victoria Legrand. Reasonably, “Storm Maker” breaks form, not tempo. It’s idyllic synthesizers curl around Jones singing about the cacophony of daily life. Finally, the ballad silences her bass. “Storm Maker” could be played on The Late Show.
BDSM will need a better soundtrack. Graphic’s sadomasochism’s is Troller’s tool. They’ve got their sights set past subculture, whether it’s the gimp or fellow synth nerds. Graphic is mature, and its synth pop dalliances signal that the battleaxe shtick of Troller was a ploy.
Graphic will be re-released on June 3rd by Crucial Blast (home to Gnaw Their Tongues’ black metal hellscape).