Was blessed with a classic Toronto bottle recently in the form of this year’s Double Tempest BBA Imperial stout from @amsterdambeer so it only seemed right to pair it with another old local favourite. Robert Alfons’ goth synth pop project TR/ST made its debut in 2012 with this more or less self-titled record produced in collaboration with Maya Postepski of Austra. It’s somewhat telling that the following records Alfons did on his own never came close to the musical heights you’ll find on this album but luckily Double Tempest is tasting as good as it ever has so I’m spinning this gem for the upteenth time in celebration. .
This year’s DT spent a chill 7 months in Woodford Reserve barrels, which must be some kinda sweet spot time-wise ‘cause I get all the right smoky aromas and caramel flavours here without any of the expected booze heat. And that’s with the cheeky Ontario “11.9%” abv listing. It’s remarkably smooth but also quite hefty, carrying rich chocolate, molasses, chestnut, & lava cake over a rich body that’s just short of being syrupy. Again, right in the pocket: satisfying and robust but not to the point where it starts to get viscous. There’s a touch of oaky character that I think probably brings out the slight nutty quality, most likely coming from the barrel but it’s all in a dark, chaotic maelstrom of olfactory harmony. Another killer year. .
TRST also makes a bizarre sensory diarama out of some heavy and unusual elements. The vocals draw on the gothy side of 80s post-punk, bringing a Robert Smith kinda vibe to instrumentals that are far closer to New Order or even Aphex Twin. In fact, Postepski’s synth work has never sounded closer to straight up trance with big harmonized sawtooth synth stabs and modal arpeggio sweeps that feel like they’re echoing through an empty cathedral. The drums take a very straightforward 4 on the floor approach that keeps these songs moving at a standard house tempo and gives space for the unique lyrical quips and punchy neon-drenched hooks. This album sounds like being out 4 hours after legal last call. It smells like too much dry-ice and second hand smoke wafting in from an undisclosed locale. Tempest indeed.