Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Tirzah's trip9love...??? is an emotional mirror-maze of musicality and production


Release date: 05 September 2023
Tirzah trip9love cover
06 September 2023, 08:30 Written by Ims Taylor

Producer Mica Levi makes up part of Tirzah’s fabric despite being a separate person from Tirzah Mastin, the songwriter whose name is on the project.

Indeed, as always, there’s a symbiotic negotiation between Trip9Love…???’s organic elements and its production elements, but both are driving towards the same atmospheric endgame. On Trip9Love…???, the sound is distinct and consistent across its eleven tracks. Rather than providing ebbs, flows, and varieties of mood, instead, Mastin and Levi layer up additional iterations of the same precisely crafted atmosphere, building and intensifying across the record’s runtime with unnerving power.

That mood is specifically dark – not an obvious darkness, but a darkness created by holding up a light source in order to throw shadow. It’s subtle and shifting, the melancholy diluted to a variable tint but omnipresent nevertheless. “F22”’s opening throes, which comprise of an ominous piano and hissing drum loop, underpin Tirzah’s delicate, desolate vocals which describe an impassable distance between the singer and her addressee, striving to see eye to eye but from the hopeless sonics, struggling.

The song’s structure, a driving, repetitive loop of trying and pushing, is thematic for the album, which employs similar techniques to tell further stories of cyclical pain. “Promises”’s muted instrumental countermelody spirals alongside Tirzah; “today”’s virtuosic piano introduction is allowed to luxuriate for four eight counts before the drum loop ensnares it and its downward, dizzying notes become the backdrop for Tirzah’s looping lamentations. Each track draws you in and traps you within its world, wrapping you in layers of ethereal, haunting production, but training your focus on its inescapable core. It’s incredibly evocative, and incredibly intelligent, songwriting.

Alongside the craft of each track and the way they build across Trip9Love…???, of course, there are some striking musical moments in there. Every now and then there’s a bassline or countermelody that feels almost new wave despite the flickering contemporary overtones: “No Limit” crackles with compelling garage-gone-goth energy, and Tirzah gives one of her most forceful vocal performances to go with it. Elsewhere, “2 D I C U V”, one of the only songs on the album in a major key even though it obscures it well with fuzz and static, plays two vocal styles against each other in dialogue, almost argument, to create its sense of hope and questioning.

Trip9Love…???, as the three characters in its title would suggest, is an album that questions and implores far more than it provides any clear answers. It’s a mirror-maze of musicality and production. Mastin and Levi have long described their songwriting process as almost automatic, passing ideas back and forth and growing them together – Trip9Love…??? feels just as symbiotic in that way as previous cuts 2018's Devotion and 2021's Colourgrade did, but this time, they’re so emotionally vivid that it’s disquieting to feel like a fly on the wall. Once again, they leave the listener submerged.

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