Traindodge – On a Lake of Dead Trees

On a Lake of Dead Trees

I had an interesting conversation recently with a friend about what truly defines progressive music, but we were only able to completely agree on two things – we both know it when we hear it, and most people out there pin the label on anything they have a hard time classifying. Because I don’t want the progressive label to be a complete cop-out here, I’m have a hard time coming up with ways to describe Traindodge and the band’s sophomore album, On a Lake of Dead Trees.
After repeated listens I find Traindodge to be more of a traditional rock band, as the trio lacks the bombast of multi-tiered melodies and extreme focus on instrumental technique that many of their truly progressive counterparts use with abandon. That is not to say these guys aren’t adept musicians or that the arrangements are sloppy. There is certainly a nod toward the melodic and complex song structures, but not in the grandiose sense of most progressive bands. Perhaps in the end it’s safer to say that Traindodge dips more into math-rock territory than anything else, but the word progressive keeps chanting in my head, and I can’t shake the comparisons.
The 12 tracks of On a Lake of Dead Trees run the range of tonal and rhythmic changes, with Jason Smith’s vocals following along – spoken or screamed – adding emotional angle to the songs. Tracks like “Beckon the Inferno” and “Flight of the Serpent” weave an incredibly ambient texture around the chugging guitar and bass as well as the cymbal-heavy drumming. Texture is what Traindodge seems to be all about, and the overall effect is an album that doesn’t change stylistically in extremely obvious ways. The shifts and movements from one moment to the next come on subtly because they are layered in such a dense soundscape – one that takes time to unfold and digest.
Because of this, On a Lake of Dead Trees is an album that takes time to grow on you. It’s not a hard listen, but it’s one I find takes a few listens to get all the way through because there is so much to absorb. Math-rock and prog-rock fans will undoubtedly enjoy this release if enough attention is given to really experiencing the album.