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Tram | Frequently Asked Questions (Setanta)
"You're feeling stronger now," sings Paul Anderson on Are You Satisfied before a mournful trumpet drifts into earshot to complement the drowsy guitar and long-held organ tones and - in case you weren't yet sure - heartbreak is confirmed. As much as his opposite number increases in strength, Anderson, if his halting murmur is any indication, is having it squeezed out of him, his voice effete and the back of his hand pressed metaphorically to his forehead. Like a person refusing to participate in an arguement, FAQ comes and goes leaving a wish that Tram would diffuse the situation just once and raise the stakes with volume or dissonance or an expression of something other than somnambulant, wounded resiliance. Without the Broken Dog folks lending a hand, as they did on Tram's debut Heavy Black Frame, FAQ was recorded hunched over their newly-acquired computerised studio. (A discussion of whether something still qualifies as 'lo-fi', which is how Tram overtly refer to their own music, when it's recorded on a computer will have to wait until next time.) The thoroughly clean sound is gently mesmeric in a way that recalls the softer moments of the Radar Brothers, with a minimalism - if not sensuousness - that isn't far from what Spain perfect. "You'll never close me out," Anderson limply declares at the end of Are You Satisfied, and it's not the stoicism of this icily beautiful music that's being expressed here, more like a doggedness that borders on an emotional masochism that none of us is completely free of.

Martin Williams
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001

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