Love all, trust a few…
When the sleazy synth workings of the then-titled Trust first arrived on the scene, it was like opening a dimensional portal into a bizarre shadow universe of sordid, brooding synths.
That universe came courtesy of Canadian electronic musician Robert Alfons and was first served up on his 2012 debut album TRST. Compositions such as ‘Dressed For Space’ and ‘Sulk’ oozed a frenetic energy that bristled with a sinister quality. Along for the ride at the time was Maya Postepski, who later bashed the skins for baroque pop outfit Austra (and who also developed her own solo outing under the guise of Princess Century). This gothic synth-pop approach established Trust as an act to keep an eye on.
Trust’s last album, 2014’s Joyland, featured a lighter approach to its predecessor, although as our review at the time pointed out, it was an album that could combine attributes that were both “joyful and unsettling” at the same time.
Post-Joyland Alfons kept a relatively low-key profile. However, he returned in 2017 with ‘Bicep’, a tune that could have been drawn directly from the debut album. It’s murky depths and whispery vocals demonstrated a song that breathed classic Trust (now rebranded as TR/ST).
In December the same year, another new composition appeared in the form of ‘Destroyer’. This suggested that TR/ST was moving in a new direction, something which TEC’s review at the time summed up: “There’s a departure of sorts here for Alfons, with a much more restrained composition. It’s a more nocturnal affair peppered with reedy intermissions, although Alfons’ grimy vocals are present and correct.”
Although there were hints that a new album would emerge in 2018, the trail seemed to grow cold. The only clue that something was lurking in the background was from Maya Postepksi’s cryptic social media posts. These made it quite apparent that the pair had linked up again and that Postepski’s talents would feature once again on future TR/ST material, something that Postepski has confirmed this week.
Alfons has now established Los Angeles as his base of operations, where he discovered that he had exhausted his creative energies on the first two albums (and a slate of touring). “I was really sort of depleted” he told Billboard in a recent interview. “I think I just knew the process and product of going about whatever I did next was going to have to be different. So the process was really about healing myself and then experimenting with different ideas about what a song I would put out would be.”
There’s an almost pastoral element at work on new song ‘Gone’, which has a much more user-friendly profile compared to earlier work. The uptempo workings and wistful vocals (“Did I ever tell you I need you/To lead me through the fog”) suggest a more pop-orientated incarnation of TR/ST.
‘Gone’ forms part of two upcoming album releases, which will be titled Destroyer – 1 and Destroyer – 2. The tracks for the albums were recorded by Alfons in Los Angeles, but also with some sessions in the more rural parts of his native Ontario. The TR/ST frontman describes the first album (due out this April) as “really intense, sort of promiscuous in its sound.” The second album (scheduled for release later in the year) is rumoured to be much darker and in all likelihood tracking much more closely to the material on debut album TRST.
The decision to split The Destroyer into two separate albums was a tough decision apparently (although something that’s becoming quite common for some electronic acts). However, Alfons had concerns about presenting an audience with a 16-track album to digest in one sitting. ‘Gone’, however, is a track he feels “really sums up the spirit of the whole album.”
The wait for a new TR/ST album has been a lengthy one. But the fact that not just one but two TR/ST albums will be descending on us in 2019 means electronic music will be well served before the year is out.
The Destroyer – 1 is out 19th April 2019. Pre-Order: http://smarturl.it/TheDestroyerP1
TR/ST will be performing in London 9th April at Corsica Studios (tickets on sale this Friday 8th February). More tour dates and ticket details via: https://tr-st.xyz/tour
Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel.
Publications that have featured his contributions include Electronic Sound, Metro, Japan Update Weekly, J-Pop Go, Wavegirl and OMD Messages.