Triumvirate is the first release in five years by the Pennsylvania-based Lou Rogai’s project, Lewis & Clark. The title, a term which is used to describe a power struggle between three political entities, is also the name of a cliff face in Delaware Water Gap. It’s an interesting album name and the official description of the album suggests that this represents the internal struggle of Lou Rogai between the “outward-facing philosopher; the introspective songwriter and an old soul whose oneness with the natural world can’t help but permeate his work.” It is released on Rogai’s own label, La Societe Expeditionnaire.
The opener, Eve’s Wing, is over ten minutes long, an unusual length for the beginning of an album but then again Triumvirate is over seventy minutes long. It’s a delicate song that threatens to burst into something more but remains restrained despite the build up of instruments accompanying Rogai’s soothing vocal. Elaborate strings introduce Black Cloud. Here Rogai laments the breakdown of a friendship – ‘droplets of poison burn through to your pride … betray my friend I mistook you for much’. The song is heavy in pain and regret and it’s not hard to see the connection to the title.
Two interludes break up the album. Pompeii Dream is the first one, dreamy, rather psychedelic piece with double-tracked classical guitars that are slightly out of sync, deep bass and electronic ambient keys. The Turning Sky features a nylon-stringed guitar with occasional string and percussion sections that give the song more intensity. It is a song which pulls you in as there is great intensity in the vocal which has less reverb and is more intimate than other songs on the album. Two Trees is the second interlude. This time we have a child stutteringly reading a fairytale to a repetitive piano pattern. The Ride and Ascentionist are big sounding songs as is the last track of Triumvirate, Sojourn Sam, which brings the album to a close in an atmospheric, post-rock fashion.
Triumvirate is an album that has been recorded in such a way to sound lush at times but yet still retains a minimalist sound that suits Rogai’s calm vocals and the strong lyrical content of the songs. It is more produced than other Lewis & Clark albums but continues in the same direction as previous recordings.
The overall length of the album can be a challenge in keeping a listener engaged. Musically it’s ideal for lovers of ambient music but lyrically it’s so much more challenging than that.
Review by: Philip Soanes
A Map of a Maze – a short film detailing the environments, inspirations and meditiations of Triumvirate
Out Now on La Société Expéditionnaire
Order via Amazon