Echo Response is the brainchild of Jason Ingalls. It shouldn’t be surprising that Ingalls could make an instrumental album like Triangles pretty much by himself. Though probably best known as a drummer, he’s played guitar and made other noises over the years with some of Portland’s most creative indie bands, including The Baltic Sea, Seekonk, An Evening With, and Sunset Hearts.
Still, Triangles isn’t surprisingly good. It’s astonishingly awesome.
It’s become cliché to say an album rewards both casual and deep listening. Sure, you can put Triangles on in the background and nod along to the dub reggae and island funk floating on the surface. But this album’s true treasures are all underneath that, and only direct transmission into the mind can unlock its wonders.
“The Approach” opens the 11-track LP with a light dub touch, but there’s something spooky brewing — did you hear a glass break? Sure enough, “BIFAR” follows. The irie beat has become distinctly industrialized, the guitar riffs stabby. Saxophonist Rexy Dinosaur, who’s all over this record, shows up to blow some raw notes and the beat gets crowded, gusts of sound swirl and howl, chaos knocking at the door.
The next track, “Two Triangles,” comes off as another easy reggae joint, but Ingalls jams the signal a minute in with a grinding scrape of sound that recurs until the end, giving the tune a satisfying texture. This fades into the atmospheric “One Door Opens,” an unsettling piece of meditative music haunted by a slowly strummed guitar. Then on to “The Mountain,” whereupon we leave the beach vibe behind for a steady climb through clouds of guitar and synth sounds while percussive things ring and plink in the middle distance.
More adventures await you on Triangles — conventionally pleasant chill-out music that’s thickened and twisted, built up and torn down, in unconventional ways — and it’d spoil your enjoyment to give more away. But I will share the news that Ingalls and the band he’s put together to play this material live are performing at The Apohadion Theater on May 5. If you stand up front, right next to the speakers, I’ll probably see ya there.