From the first notes of “Albion,” the opening track on Desertion Trio’s Numbers Maker, it is clear that the band is leaning into a new direction. Rolling Stone described their previous effort 2019’s record of ecstatically- arranged covers of mid-century hits, Twilight Time as “surreally deconstructed retro pop,” but this new music has a darker edge that hits a little differently. The opening melody offers an oblique, fisheye reference to the sound of 1960s spy and surf guitar themes while a collective improvisation warps that perspective, shooting for the stars with sprawling and effected tones.
Numbers Maker press release
Although Desertion Trio is following a new musical path, the sound of the band described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “exploratory, distorted, and warped” is still recognizable. On “Powers,” the band builds angular riff-age into a sideways blues motif that is akin to 2018’s Midtown Tilt, while the album’s centerpiece, “Buist,” is an energetic romp that pairs wah-soaked shredding from guitarist Nick Millevoi with a propulsive, tumbling groove from bassist Johnny DeBlase and drummer Jason Nazary, owing an equal debt of gratitude to Funkadelic guitar-maestro Eddie Hazel as well as the darker side of Miles Davis’ electric bands.
While the band has always been a three-piece, Desertion Trio have brought along friends on their previous records keyboardists Jamie Saft and Ron Stabinsky and Sun Ra Arkestra vocalist Tara Middleton making Numbers Maker their first true trio release. With Nazary’s addition to the drum chair, the band’s pulse beats a little differently, allowing them to go places they’ve never gone before. Nowhere is that clearer than on “Taboo” and “Numbers Maker,” both tunes from previous Desertion Trio records where the group reconstructs these songs and, in the case of “Numbers Maker,” shifts into hyperdrive with sheer abandon.
In order to celebrate the spirit of a power trio in its natural state, Desertion Trio recorded Numbers Maker in front of a live audience at New Haven, CT’s Firehouse 12 studio. The result is a detailed studio recording that finds the band all-in with no overdubs and no re-takes, capturing the energy of live improvisations in an effort that harkens back to Millevoi and DeBlase’s work with their previous band, the Tzadik-released brutal prog trio Many Arms.
Numbers Maker is the third Desertion Trio release, following Twilight Time and 2018’s Midtown Tilt, which was described by Noisey as “supremely weird desert noir” and by Aquarium Drunkard as a “nonstop instrumental thrill-ride.” Guitarist and bandleader, Nick Millevoi, has previously worked with Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band and John Zorn, and NPR has described his sound as “like a rocket darting skyward between clouds.” Bassist Johnny DeBlase has worked alongside Millevoi in the band Many Arms and in performing the music of John Zorn and is a member of Zevious and Sabbath Assembly, while Jason Nazary is a member of bands such as Anteloper, Bloor, Clebs and Little Women.