3 Trillion – Dumpster Fire – EP Review
You know, back in our days in British Columbia, this dude and I would sit around SBS and talk about music for hours on end. When I first met young Brandon Kahl, the man behind the music of 3 Trillion, this project wasn’t even remotely on the horizon yet, though his dreams of pursuing music certainly were. Hopefully, somewhere in the liner-notes of this guy’s life you’ll find us in there one day…I’d never take credit for the exceptional talent & ear for sound Brandon has, but I like to think we played a role in inspiring him at least a little during his incubation period. As far as I remember, I basically opened up a couple of windows in ProTools back in the day, and he completely took it from there; he maybe had a couple of questions at some point, and I probably only had one answer to give him. In short, there wasn’t much a guy like me could teach a naturally talented & gifted mind like you’ll find in Brandon Kahl.
Incidentally, that’s facts. I ain’t butterin’ the guy’s nuts just because he’s an SBS alumni. We connected because the man is totally in tune with music of all-kinds to begin…he’s every bit as rad as I claim he is.
Stepping out as 3 Trillion with his debut EP called Dumpster Fire, it’s more than clear that since our time working together back in 2015/2016, he’s put his skills to incredible use and continued to up the stakes. We’d heard a cut from him back at the end of 2016 in a collaborative project he was calling An Infinite Attraction at the time…but understand, this was before a whole shitload of world-travel in his future and gaining a whole new perspective on life itself pretty much. While I might have been around for the awakening of his passion for music, the true dawn was still on the horizon…that real test of what he was capable of was still awaiting…the challenge of pushing his creativity to the limits & beyond, was still the goal, 100%. I’d imagine that was likely his attitude both in the studio & out of it…Kahl’s lived some serious LIFE in these past years since we moved from BC to Ontario, and it’s been awesome to witness his evolution.
I just been waiting to hear it is all.
Like I said, he’s always been gifted, he’s always been good. What he pulled off in our studio mixing live cuts from the Prog-Rock band Spaceport Union while he was still learning ProTools for the first time was spot-on…his own early demo cuts were killer and much more listenable than most from the get-go…and what he did in An Infinite Attraction was solid too…but perhaps all a general confirmation of what we already knew he was capable of. I suspect he somewhat knew that…we’d talk all the time about the eventual differences he’d experience between the past & the present version of himself, and how what he was doing way back when would pale in comparison to what he would be able to do in the future.
And obviously, we were right about that. Here we are – the Dumpster Fire EP is all the proof ya need.
Like, as IF “How Many?” isn’t complete confirmation of everything I’ve said here right off the bat. 3 Trillion comes out CRUSHIN’ IT with vibrantly rubbery-electro sounds flexing & fluxing, morphing and shape-shifting all around ya. I’m stoked on the degree of accessible sound & melody at the core of this cut; I ain’t gonna lie, it’s complex AF and would totally be a hard sell to the masses out there as a whole – but for those out there that dig their experimental cuts and their Electro & DnB tracks…this is for you. From the lefts to the rights, 3 Trillion is throwing out lightning bolts of electrifying sound and letting them bounce off the walls; some of them are right where you’d expect them to occur, others are much more purposely scattered & random to keep your ears on high-alert and your attention locked on. Mission fully accomplished…LISTEN to key moments like around the 45 second mark and 1:55 spot – the man ain’t messin’ around on his opening cut, “How Many?” takes sound straight to your dome and buries this musical mayhem right into your lobes for good. You can feel these sounds like they’re in 3D though, that’s facts…you get about ten seconds before this whole track leaps right outta your speakers and immediately fill the air with hypnotic & electronically-psychedelic vibes from every possible angle. What “How Many?” really has going for it is the relentless build-up and release of highly engaging sounds that have absolutely spectacular texture to them…like…it’ll tickle your ears & spine as you listen – and who in their right mind wouldn’t want that? Believe me, I ain’t lyin’ – like I said, you feel this tune surge through ya.
“Contact” might be my favorite of the bunch…it’s hard to resist the powerful groove and progression 3 Trillion locks into in the vibe of this cut…and I see more benefits to giving in and turning it up than I do trying to futilely push this song away. After having listened to the entirety of Dumpster Fire several times…I’d say it’s probably my opinion that it gets stronger as it plays…so keep that in mind; while writing this out, the second cut becomes my favorite…but we’ve still got a third contender to follow. What I really dig about “Contact” is that I think 3 Trillion really displays the largest amount of potential here…like you can hear skills in this song that apply to all sorts of musical aspects, but also the ones required to make soundtracks and scores come alive as well. You know what I mean? Try to tell me that “Contact” wouldn’t be the raddest thing about the new Bond movie or some kickass mystery/action film – 3 Trillion is almost into Propellerheads-like territory when it comes to how a sound like this could cross into multiple mediums and strengthen the vibe of anything it becomes a part of. You couldn’t ask Kahl for more than he’s givin’ ya in the mix of “Contact” – he walked into our studio in 2015 with skills that already surpassed my own, but the way he’s progressed and evolved into such a clearly audible force to be reckoned with on this record damn near leaves me speechless. It’s intense, it’s action-packed, it’s fully loaded with bombastic sounds and clever choices continuously detonating around ya while you glide smoothly along with the main melody at the core of “Contact” – it’s expertly assembled and ready to be turned up to maximum volume for your late-night highway crusing, perfectly striking that balance between songs that keep us fully entertained in addition to serving a damn purpose! You could put “Contact” on & feel like you’re a superhero, I swear to ya…try it out, go save the world; you’re welcome.
What I really like about the final track “Sweat” is a lot of what I’ve loved about many of these tunes, in the sense that they’ve all got their own defined sound and each do their own thang without apologies. Of all the cuts on this record, I come out with a real affinity towards this last cut, because it absolutely reminds me SO MUCH of what I love about Aphex Twin at his finest, or Boards Of Canada at their most energetic, and all without being fully derivative, know what I mean? Like, real fans of AT would hear the comparison to be made in this track by 3 Trillion, but the similarities would probably fly by most people here. Make no mistake though dear readers, dear friends – I’ve got Aphex tattooed proudly on my arm and wouldn’t throw the comparison out there lightly…and if you’re 3 Trillion, take it to heart that you’ve got the goods to compete with the very best. Ultimately, I think “Sweat” locks onto some of the catchiest moments and hooks you’ll find on the Dumpster Fire EP, but also keeps the balance of precision-chaos & musical-mischief perfectly in-check too. It’s wickedly entertaining on the surface, and the more you dig into it, the more you appreciate the complexity and painstaking attention to detail being put in by 3 Trillion on this final cut. From the production to the structure & stunning selection of sounds, so many pivotal choices have been made in how each layer interacts and responds to the others…it’s that exact type of insightful approach that has always made Kahl a noticeably outstanding talent and set him apart from the rest. He’s working with deadly vibes and grooves and an immaculate set of ideas on “Sweat” – and in my opinion, even with the level of strengths 3 Trillion presents on both “How Many?” and “Contact,” I think this EP ends on its most exceptional cut and raises the stakes just that final 10% more at the very end. It sounds focused, it sounds like an artist at the top of his game, and right into the moment…”Sweat” exemplifies what effort, talent, and true passion are capable of. I’d be super stoked on this record if I was 3 Trillion…I think it’s better than a great debut – this was that evolution & elevation I wanted to hear in Brandon’s music on every level I can think of. I think the Dumpster Fire EP is complete proof of how far he’s come with his music to get to this point now, and a complete sign of how far he’ll still go in the future to follow.
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