Photo by Elliot Lee Hazel
First profiled for RAIN by Cody Critcheloe, better known as SSION (shun), in issue No.3, Fall/Winter 2017-18, Robert Alfons, better known as TR/ST, will release his highly anticipated album in two LPs – that’s short for “long play” for you younger listeners. RAIN has an exclusive listen to the first LP, The Destroyer-1, out April 19th. The second installment, The Destroyer-2 will be released in November.
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since TR/ST last released an album. A quick history of the incredible Mr. Alfons. First there was his debut album, TRST (2012) with meteoric indie hits like Sulk and Dressed for Space. 2014 was blessed with Alfons’ second album, Joyland and what a joy it was – a dreamy album…and perhaps the most notable departure was its shocking range of Alfons’ vocals – highest highs and lowest lows – and dare we say it, personalities. Fast-forward to 2017 and we got some muscle from TR/ST with his single “Bicep” – a triumphant track that signaled something was evolving sonically from Joyland.
Now comes The Destroyer-1, undoubtably the greatest musical achievement yet from TR/ST. A full bodied LP rich with Alfon’s affinity for 80s references, soothing synths, expressive anthems, and melancholic remedies that only TR/ST can cast upon us, spellbound. In this LP, it’s worth noting how crisp and clear his lyrics have come since his debut album where lyrics were more distorted and distant, bleeding into the ether. Despite the better glimpse into his mind and a new sense of confidence, many tracks are still as cryptic and mystic as ever. As David Bowie once said, “I Can’t Give it All Away.” There are many deep dance hits on The Destroyer-1 with great hooks that reference the 80s as much as Alfons’ own extensive repertoire of hypnotic hooks. The songs on this LP aren’t songs you can listen to once – they’re meant to slowly develop and then envelop you.
This is a deep and personal album, which is somewhat trite to say because it is obvious all of Alfons’ work comes from this place, and that’s what makes him so remarkable and appealing. This first installment leaves us with the feeling of shifting through all the different moods and movements of a night. We try to understand through his words, moods, feelings, and rhythms something deep inside us that seems eerily familiar but just out of reach. That longing is what underlies a persistent theme throughout Alfons’ discography and, as we speculate, is what he wants you, the listener, to connect with most. Listen to the first single, “Unbleached” below.
“The giant agaves outside my home only bloom every 20 or 30 years. Being around that was a powerful lesson in slowness. And in tenacity.” Robert Alfons says that accepting a radical change of pace was key in making The Destroyer, his new album under the moniker TR/ST.
“The environment I work in has always guided me. But it took a long time to submit to the kind of patience these songs were asking of me. I was getting glimpses of what I wanted to achieve with the album,” he says. “But it wasn’t feeling cohesive; things weren’t aligning in a clear direction.” Alfons realized it was a question of patience and perseverance. “My first two records were put out so close to one another that I think of them as one,” he says, “They just poured out of me.” With The Destroyer, the process was entirely different. “It was so much more careful. I found myself seeking spaces of absolute quiet; I needed them in order to hear what was going on inside.”
When I feel like my life is taken care of, then I feel like my work gets better. I go deeper and darker, or whatever.” – TR/ST, RAIN FW17-18
TR/ST sets out on tour in April, dates listed below. Many thanks to Tell All Your Friends PR.
06/07-09 – Austin, TX | Austin Terror Fest