Trigram, an epiphany birthed from a nightmare, woke up one night in 2016 with questions demanding a better outcome for his life. Rodney Warner stepped aside long enough for his alter-ego, Trigram, to emerge and commit to completing a work of art of which he would be proud. Out of the despair of realizing that life isn’t permanent, his mind was left in a weird space where he found himself wondering if at the end of his life he would be happy.
And so Rodney got to working. Over the course of a year, he recorded the four songs that make up his self-titled debut E.P. Released independently on November 17, 2017, the E.P. was produced by Trigram’s long-time friend, Brian Mansell, who also performed drums and lead guitar. Rodney did all the vocals and played the rhythm guitar and bass. Carlos Hernandez played the drums in “Bleed Out”. As the E.P. came together, the name and its symbology proved appropriate.
“The specific Trigram that adorns the cover is the ‘Trigram of Fire’”, Rodney explains. “It symbolizes fire and pent-up energy trying to break out from within. I’m letting something out here.”
Each song on the E.P. is an analysis of a social issue and Rodney invites the listener to “discover the layers of the music” and to “find a message that speaks to you”. He says, “The music that I love does this and I hope that Trigram can do the same.” Rodney’s project is hard rock with a style that’s similar to A Perfect Circle, Deftones, Alice in Chains, and Chevelle. It’s also classified under industrial, metal, and rock.
The E.P. begins with the song “Assimilate” which, according to Rodney, “takes a metaphoric look at conformity in social media through the lens of a post-apocalyptic world where a supreme leader enslaves the population through electronic devices. ” This conformity is portrayed perfectly in the song’s music video which was directed by Alex Frey of Friday Forward Pictures. “I thought about how everyone is turning into the same person with the same point of view because of what is being force-fed to us through social media,” Rodney adds.
The music itself takes part in the storyline where the first sound you hear is of marching, denoting assimilation in even the way one walks. During the verses you hear two distinct sounds, one of the lead guitar quietly playing in the background and then the rhythm section, which is loud and in your face symbolizing the entity that seeks to hypnotize the masses. In the pre-chorus and chorus the lead guitar drowns in the mesh up between it and the rhythm section, whilst in the instrumental the wailing guitar cries out as it is being erased, matching the message in the song, “We’re gonna take you / we will erase you / assimilate you / better than you ever were”.
“Entropy” comes next. It is a cry of the enslaved whose land has been taken by the cunning ways of the likes of Christopher Columbus. The heavy rhythm section is the musical representation of the cruel and unjust ways of slavery. For the most part, the instruments in this song serve to move along the story as a backdrop, a grey background that’s colored by the song’s message.
In “Bleed Out”, Rodney shows off his skills as a composer and tells the story of the horrors of relationship violence. It is a hard rock adaptation of an opera similar to “Carmen”. We follow a disgruntled party in the relationship who is tired of being silenced and is looking for an opportunity to get back at his/her partner. The music takes part in the story where the lead guitar plays the melody while the bass provides a place for the melody to step on, the foundation so-to-speak. As the plot thickens, the mood changes at the bridge where the prominent sounds are the percussion and vocals. Here we hear the internal conversation of the angry party as he considers his next steps; it’s do or die. The rest of the song descends from the climax as the dissatisfied person takes action whilst all the instruments add a sombre tune to the haunting refrain, “You’re right / I’m wrong / You rubbed it in my f*****g face too long”.
The last song is “Tick Down”, one that leaves you feeling uneasy and with the desire to listen to something more peppy, and ward off any negative energy attempting to take over your mind and body. It is about a drug addict looking for his next high as his means to reach catharsis. It is also a confrontation towards the addict. He likes getting high, but are his ways truly beneficial? For the most part, the music serves as background; the message is more important. However, at the end, it becomes the main focus when the character’s neurons are saturated by hallucinogens and the music serves to portray the hallucinations and bewilderment the character is experiencing. If you’re someone who likes music to end on a positive note or not in such a deep and thought-provoking eerie way, you will not like how the EP ends. “Tick Down” wasn’t the best choice for the last song.
Overall, this EP makes your think about and question the negative realities of our world. Rodney truly is sending a message to the listeners and it’s up to you to examine it. He has succeeded in his desire to tell a story through his music and you are encouraged to interpret the songs according to your lens.