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TRIP LAVA

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United States


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Trip Lava biography
TRIP LAVA is the brainchild of US, Minnesota based composer and multi-instrumentalist Joel Lee. He started the project in 2005, and after 2 years of spare time efforts with his instruments and trusty 4-track, 2007 saw the release of the first album under the Trip Lava moniker - "Oddball in the Corner Pocket".

The music on this production is based on circular improvisation. Acoustic drums, guitars, bass, and loops/drones mix in rotation, creating patterns and moods that avoid conventional 3 chord song structures. These improvs are tied together with strange sonic segues and sound effects.

Trip Lava is highly experimental, instrumental rock that has been compared to Space/Psychedelic, Krautrock, Acid Jazz, Rio and more. It's music that is always moving, always shifting, and kind of hard to label.

Minnesota based indie-label Shark Records signed Trip Lava in 2010. Shortly after they issued Lee's second production under the Trip Lava moniker, "Octatroid", which Lee started working on back in 2008. "Octatroid" is a 38 minute concept album, telling the story of a heroic robot warrior who defends a village from the evil robot Gurgblah. Comprising of 13 tracks, which are all tied together to form one piece of music.

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OctatroidOctatroid
CD Baby 2010
Audio CD$5.59
$3.95 (used)
Oddball in the Corner PocketOddball in the Corner Pocket
CD Baby 2007
Audio CD$1.98
$5.02 (used)

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TRIP LAVA discography


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TRIP LAVA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 6 ratings
Oddball in the Corner Pocket
2007
3.17 | 6 ratings
Octatroid
2010

TRIP LAVA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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TRIP LAVA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Octatroid by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Octatroid
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Octatroid' - Trip Lava (6/10)

Composer Joel Lee goes for a second spin with his Trip Lava project. With his debut, Joel achieved an interesting, but scattered collection of jams. His talent as a musician was certainly there, but there was an added sense of direction needed in order to give his work that sense of 'album completion' that many progressive artists strive for. To that end, Joel's second album 'Octatroid' is a giant step in regards to album flow. Although it's safe to say that this second album is not a full head above its predecessor, 'Octatroid' represents a more matured Trip Lava.

Musically speaking, 'Octatroid' now focuses more on the electronic element of Trip Lava than was heard of 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket', which capitalized on Joel's talents with the guitar. 'Octatroid' maintains Trip Lava's sound, but approaches it from a much different angle. There is a simultaneously a greater sense of composition and noisier sound to this one. 'Octatroid' most notable victory over 'Oddball' is in regards to its flow. Although there are thirteen tracks here, they all roll along as one epic piece. In fact, 'Octatroid' is a concept album of sorts. Although there are no lyrics to push a story along, Joel tells a very simple sci-fi tale through the tone of the music and album booklet. In summary, an evil overlord builds a robot to attack a helpless village, and the eponymous hero mechanique Octatroid steps in to the rescue. Without spoiling anything, Octatroid saves the day. It's a plot that a thousand bad science fiction movies have covered before, but the depth of the story is not the point of 'Octatroid'. What makes the concept aspect of the album work so well is the fact that each track is able to reflect the plot so well. Although it may be difficult to gather any but the most basic elements of the story without the help of the booklet, Joel uses sound effects, changes of tone and mood, and droning build-ups to convey the plight of Octatroid. Without a doubt, this is the album's biggest selling point, and makes me want to check out more instrumental concept albums that tell stories in similar fashion.

I agree with the general consensus that 'Octatroid' is a more challenging effort than we have heard before from Joel Lee. This time around, the music is much more sonic and dense, sometimes reverting to a barrage of noise. All of this manages to contribute to the concept, but it's clear that not all of Trip Lava's ideas work. With heavy influences in Krautrock and lo- fi ambient, Trip Lava's electronic elements are the focus here, ousting the guitar from any semblance of importance. Joel Lee is very good at arranging a vast, chaotic sound, but after a while, it becomes difficult to focus on the sonic complexity, and easier to 'tune out', in a sense. It's not to say that Trip Lava's music is boring- it's a challenging piece of music- but for long stretches, the music gets monotonous. The electronic noise also gets taken out of hand quite a few times on the record. The excessive bursts of noise wear thin quickly, but there are ultimately few bumps on the road. 'Octatroid's sound never jumps out at me or gives me chills, but it's a very interesting experiment with a bucket of atmosphere to go along with it. I cannot say that 'Octatroid' is that much better than 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' though, because while this latest effort is more ambitious, it also falters more than the debut. In any case, for fans of noisy rock or Kraut, 'Octatroid' is well-worth listening to.

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 Oddball in the Corner Pocket by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.50 | 6 ratings

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Oddball in the Corner Pocket
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' - Trip Lava (6/10)

'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' is a musical journey that is quite fresh to my ears. Although I have great respect for the legends of psychedelia and even an invested- albeit limited- interest in some of the more obscure acts who seek to plunge their listeners down the proverbial rabbit hole, multi-instrumentalist Joel Lee's Trip Lava is a band that makes music that I am not all that used to, so I think hearing this has opened up some doors for me. This is the work of one man whose mission statement in music seems to be experimenting with different rhythms, and pulling out different ideas from his subconscious through improvisation. As a result, the music here is very loose, and true to what I anticipated, Trip Lava does get lost in its own self-indulgence from time to time. Despite the inherent feeling of aimlessness that this improvised music gives though, Lee's creative use of textures and arrangement makes 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' an engaging experience.

What I'm hearing here generally consists of simple acoustic drums, noodlings on guitar, and enough spacey effects to convince Timothy Leary that it's time for rehab. These tracks on 'Oddball' are not necessarily 'songs', but rather running jams where Lee is free to experiment with different textures. Most of these jams get packed into deep grooves, and it tends to create a hypnotic effect. Arguably Lee's greatest strength here is his use of effects and computer wizardry. While the guitars and drums are effective, they are rarely anything special, and the musicianship never really impresses me beyond par. Its his ability to create shimmering walls of sound that gets the magic going for the music here.

Its obvious positive aspects aside, 'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' is a very imperfect album. None of these tracks really compliment each other; instead, it feels like these are mostly a little too alike. There was some decent shock to hear the throbbing bass work and trippy space sounds and flange, but by the end of the album, one becomes a little too familiar with what the album has to offer. For an album calling itself experimental, there is really not much variety on it. The one running sound that Joel Lee has crafted here is really intriguing, but it does feel as if the album could have used a track or two to break up the freak-out jams.

'Oddball In The Corner Pocket' is an uncompromising and strange piece of art, and its made all the more exciting due to my limited experience with any like-sounding music. It is a somewhat rough album, but it delivers what it promises.

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 Octatroid by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Octatroid
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by thellama73
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars Trip Lava is the work of Joel Lee, who provides all the writing and performances on this album. It's a timeless tale of an evil king and his robot minion trying to whip some ignorant villagers into shape, only to be foiled by the enigmatic yet powerful Octatroid.

The album is entirely instrumental, the story unfolding by means of the music alone (accompanied by the CD booklet of course.) Although indexed separately, the tracks all flow into one another, making for what is essentially one long piece of music. There is definitely a psychedelic vibe going on here, but hear the album as being more in the Progressive Electronic vein rather than space rock, with keyboards and processed sounds dominating the proceedings. The live drums are a nice touch though.

There is a busy, frantic feeling present in most of the tracks, which is understandable since the story is about robots fighting, and a great deal of rhythmic complexity, yet the music is not without a quirky sense of humor. I am reminded of the work of the electronic artist "Books on Tape" in many places. There is also a fair amount of distorted feedback, used very creatively, that makes me think of Merzbow, though not nearly so abrasive or atonal.

This is quite fine freakout music, but the album as a whole suffers from a lack of diversity in sound. The energy level is set at a constant high for the duration of the record, and it demands a lot of the listener to focus on it all the way through. There are a few second of quietness in "Octatroid Must Rest" and again at the very end of the record, but that's all the respite you're going to get. This is doubly a shame since the peaceful sections are themselves very well done. I could easily listen to another five or ten minutes of "Peace Returns" and be happy about it.

That being said, this is a good record of trippy, high energy instrumental prog. Just be prepared to be a little tired by the end of it.

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 Octatroid by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Octatroid
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Octatroid is the sophomore effort by US one man band Trip Lava, and is an excursion into a musical universe where all regular conceptions on the art of crafting a musical composition have been tossed aside.

Carefully planned and crafted, we're treated to one piece of music divided into 13 chapters, where atonal fragmented sounds, dissonant motifs and noisescapes are the dominating melody providers, placed on top of energetic and often frantic drums and sounds of a percussional character. The bass guitar and the less freaked out guitar motifs does add grains of melodic touches to the proceedings, but it isn't until the final chapter that a melodic theme unfolds, to ease the listener out of this intense non-melodic universe in a more tranquil and laidback manner.

If the notion of extreme avant-garde creations with psychedelic leanings following a conceptual story sounds like something you might enjoy, this album is most likely one you have dreamed about. I referenced fans of Magical Power Mako as a suitable target crowd for Trip lava's first CD from 2007, and can only repeat that suggestion this second time as well. With the main difference that Trip Lava this time around arguably can be described as the most challenging of these two.

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 Octatroid by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Octatroid
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is TRIP LAVA's second record and it's an instrumental concept album set in the future. Sort of a Science Fiction story I guess you could say. And while i'm not generally a fan of concept albums, instrumental ones usually aren't a problem for me. Usually. I'm a big fan of Psychedelic music but the noisy, experimental kind is often hard for me to digest. There's lots of that here because of the concept. So while I can appreciate the need for it as I follow the story line i'm not a fan of it. So that's my bigget issue with this album. In fact I prefer the debut to this one.

We get 13 songs over 37 1/2 minutes but the songs all sort of blend together making this a fairly seemless listen. As i mentioned earlier there's lots of abrasive sounds and experimentation. I do though like "Zidrakong The Sorcerer" especially a minute in where we get a great sounding section after the chaos.Then it picks back up. My favourite though is easily "Peace Returns" the final track. I just prefer this dreamy, melodic style of Psychedelia and this is beautiful. An excellent way to end the album especially after all the turbulence that has preceeded it.

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 Octatroid by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Octatroid
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

3 stars Again TRIP LAVA is a one-man show here. Speaking of a rollercoaster trip last time when reviewing Joel's debut 'Oddball in the Corner Pocket' I definitely could not know what will follow of course. Well, his second effort reaches for new ups and downs, it's a really dangerous course on this occasion, excentric, a balancing act so to say, a heavy load for the listener, at least for me.

'Octatroid' presents a concept telling the SciFi/Mystery story about tyrannic king Meldagar. He was ousted by his people some day and prepares on a revenge. An evil robot (Gurgblah) and heroic eight-armed robot (Octatroid) are fighting each other ... and finally, with the help of a sorcerer, the whole story comes to a positive result. When knowing this you can expect a special dramaturgy concerning the musical essence. And it's not sursprising really that the proportion of electronical elements has increased to the benefit of a strong avantgarde approach with a technical and surreal share (Stockhausen comes into my mind).

The short songs are fading into each other, also opening the door to a whole epic if you like. Tricky rhythms are alternating with way out excursions based on electronical gimmicks all over. You will be frequently confronted with an uncommon bass style, frantic drums. The songs are offen escalating to a high speed performance, like on The Search of Zidrakong - hence it's strongly recommended to study the song details Joel offers within the booklet. So you'll get an impression about the dramaturgy - why it has to sound in this way. Spacey guitars are really rare like on Octatroid Reaches Mt. Meldagar - so much the more you will meet the whole nine yards of synthesizer and sample exhibition all the way through.

Blatantly ambitious for sure but less accessible. According to my taste it's too much of a good thing here and there. Joel is an artist who doesn't make any compromise. He doesn't have to, because managing everything on his own. Never heard such a compositional attempt before, meant as a compliment concerning the experimental attitude. Anyhow - I for one prefer his debut. 'Octatroid' is recommended though to such a fan base which like an excentric kraut/avantgarde sound.

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 Octatroid by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.17 | 6 ratings

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Octatroid
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Content Development & Krautrock Team

4 stars Octatroid is the second album released by the multi-instrumentalist Joel Lee. Octatroid follows the same musical path with obvious references to krautrockin excentricities and RIO. However this one features much more cosmic-molecular-noisy-spacy experiments obtained by machines and technologies. The drum / guitar combination is always impressively bombastic and perpetually improvised. Octatroid is conceptually based on sci-fi / futurist-post modernism decadence. Consequently, the musical pieces deliver a menacing-agressive like atmosphere sustained until the end of the album. The album is divided into 13 parts but it's composed like a whole single piece. After a long introduction into spaced out vibes and sci-fi surreal ambiences, the musical voyage reveal astonishing-delirious and groovy guitar tones (The Search for Zidrakong) versatile solos and maniacal drum parts. The acid inflected electronic sounds come back to the surface, punctuated by savage drums and freaky krautrockin' guitar grooves. Peace Returns closes the album with calm dreamy-like piece made of long synthesised waves and expressive echoing guitar lines. Octatroid is maybe more challenging / extreme than Trip lava's first effort, also less psychedelic. Joel Lee develops a sort of schizoid-scifi hybrid kraut jazzy rock...An unique, imaginative and interlocking jurassic (lo-fi electro) rockin trip. Pretty achieved and highly recommended.

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 Oddball in the Corner Pocket by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.50 | 6 ratings

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Oddball in the Corner Pocket
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars US-based musician Joel Lee most certainly takes his listeners on a trip with his Trip Lava project; in a manner that suggests that tripping while examining it or at least being familiar with that experience is an advantage to decode his psychedelic excursions here.

Cascades of droning sounds, slowly changing or abruptly evolving noise patterns and a dominant dissonant expression are key elements in these escapades; while some key elements remains mostly unchanged if not through an entire track then at least one stable factor is present in all segments. That the red thread may be a swirling, fluctuating light keyboard or guitar layer far back in the soundscape or a siren-like guitar wail just as well as a driving bass theme or energetic drums can make it taxing to find something to hold on to while immersing oneself in this venture though.

If this isn't already a given conclusion: We're dealing with freaked out, far out music here; instrumental and improvisational. And those who enjoy the more experimental acts in the early Krautrock-movement as well as fans of artists like Magikal Power Mako should take note of this album - as they should be a core target audience for this specific production.

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 Oddball in the Corner Pocket by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.50 | 6 ratings

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Oddball in the Corner Pocket
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Content Development & Krautrock Team

4 stars If you think that the extravagant-psychedelic chapter of music culture is definitely dissolved you should give a serious listen on this first album published under the name trip lava. It has been conceived, released and performed by the guitarist, multi-instrumentalist Joel Lee. The musical universe of Trip Lava is a bombastic hybrid of styles, exclusively instrumental, dominated by stoned groovy guitar sequences, molecular-cosmic noises, spacey synth moves and surrounded by RPI avant garde flavour . Hit single is a an agitated-hallucinogenic trip featuring obsessional rythms and driven drum pulses. The hypno-minimal-menacing progression reminds me a few things released by weird french electronic bands (Lard Free, Heldon). Hi Hat carries on a cerebral-atonal instrumental that turns into psych madness. Glass Disco is an hyper-active / schizo acid jam including buzzing looped guitars and a lot of cosmic effects. Some tracks contain evident references to comsic-kraut dementia but admit much more emphasise on loud-garagey-corrosive sounds. Glass Disco part 1 & 2 are my favourites: incredibly tranced out guitar pieces with minimalist influences (Terry Riley...). Electro Glass Climax part 2 closes the album with this typical maniacal-hypnotic-savage rockin guitars that are the real signature of the project. Oddball in th corner pocket is a courageous, inventive album which resurrects in a contemporary way the vibrant imagery, sounds and colours of vintage psychedelic space music.

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 Oddball in the Corner Pocket by TRIP LAVA album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.50 | 6 ratings

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Oddball in the Corner Pocket
Trip Lava Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. TRIP LAVA is the one man project of Joel Lee. He's obviously a fan of progressive and experimental music. Drums and guitar are prominanat but we also get loops, drones, samples and other sounds. We get 13 shortish (is that a word ?) tracks with some blending into each other. I must say I found this quite enjoyable, especially this morning as I drove into work on this warm and hazy day. It's all instrumental.

We get a beat fairly quickly on the opening track "Hit Single" as processed guitar makes some noise. It gets pretty intense after 3 minutes. Cool ending as it sounds like a whistle from a train. "Hi Hat" features guitar and cymbals before the drums come in. "Glass Disco" is intense throughout and it ends with glass breaking all over the place. "Flying Tremolo" is mostly drums and guitar while "Gallop Light" has this cool beat with the focus on the drums. It settles 2 1/2 minutes in then it sounds like a jet taking off. "Flange Rock" has a good rhythm as other sounds join in. "Kung Fu" is the shortest tune at less than a minute.

"Floating" has this beat with spacey sounds. Guitar comes in then this pulsating hum takes over. "Sirens" is a good one with so much going on.The guitar is good too. Low drones end it. "Glass Disco Pt.2" sounds like a lot of drums and percussion, probably electronics too. "Gallop" has some prominant drumming in it as the guitar comes in making noise. "Squish" is all about the beat. Sounds like bass too. Sirens come in after 4 minutes as the beat stops. "Electro Glass Climax Pt.2" opens with drums and there's lots going on. Guitar comes in at 1 1/2 minutes. This is excellent. My favourite track. It settles before 3 minutes.The sound then goes from speaker to speaker, faster and faster. A pretty cool way to end it.

Fans of Psychedelic music should check this "oddball" out.

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Thanks to windhawk and Joel Lee for the artist addition.

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