Under the inspired and fiercely determined leadership of composer/guitarist/keyboardist Roger Trigaux, one of the most influential musicians in Belgium’s contemporary music scene, Present has been blasting apart boundaries between rock, classical and jazz music for more than three decades. Their music is a striking blend of rock with classical and jazz influences. The compositions, most penned by Trigaux, utilize complex counterpoint, rapidly shifting time signatures and a strong instrumental attack. The final result is blindingly precise works of syncopated instruments, all seemingly coming from different angles, but working together into a cohesive whole.
In 1974, Present bandleader and composer Roger Trigaux co-founded Univers Zero, one of Europe’s most respected New Music bands. During his time with UZ, Trigaux participated in the founding event of the Rock In Opposition movement, a 5-band concert in London organized to showcase non-commercial bands and provide an alternative model for international touring and distribution. Over time, the R.I.O. tag assumed a more musical meaning, becoming synonymous with Chamber Rock -- a hybrid genre combining electric rock with acoustic classical instruments.
Trigaux performed with Univers Zero for five years before deciding, in 1979, to lead his own, more rock/electric-based band. He left UZ and formed Present alongside jazz and classical pianist Alain Rochette and two fellow members from Univers Zero, drummer Daniel Denis and bassist Christian Genet. Initially planned as a studio-only project, Present released its debut album Triskaidekaphobie in late 1980. Soon after, they began giving live performances. With Triskaidekaphobie, Present successfully reinterpreted early Univers Zero’s Chamber Rock aesthetic – which Trigaux had been instrumental in defining – for a smaller, wholly electric line-up, resulting in a louder and decidedly more visceral rock edge. After Present began performing live, its two epic-length pieces, the classic “Promenade Au Fond D’Un Canal” (which the band still performs live to this day) and “Quatre-Vingt-Douze” formed the core of its stage repertoire.
Today, Present is widely acknowledged and celebrated as one of the leading lights of the Rock In Opposition (R.I.O.) / avant-progressive / Chamber Rock scene. They are most notable for producing genre-transcendent, non-commercial music outside (“in opposition to”) the mainstream music industry.
A tart but toe-tapping contrapuntal piece for percussion, piano, guitar and bass.
A playful, episodic piece that begins with a vaguely Latin beat and some jazzy interplay between the two keyboards before moving through several other tempos, moods and styles.
A unique combination of improvised electric guitar, percussive piano and elegant chamber rock (with female vocal) which moves through a wide variety of moods, tempos and melodic patterns.
A lurching, rhythmically intense waltz featuring electric guitar and piano, which then changes to 4/4 time and moves closer to chamber rock.
Extended, episodic piece with slow, moody opening for electric piano, bass, and guitar, giving way to swirling, staccato chords and variable rhythms in minor keys. Piano timbre and rhythm provide nice hints of an Indonesian gamelan orchestra at times.
Opens mysteriously with haunting, repeated motif on solo acoustic guitar, joined by bass, then drums and finally electric piano as rhythmic momentum and sense of urgency accelerates before coming to an abrupt end.
Dynamic, live version of an extended work, opening with electric guitar, then pulsing, powerful combination of drums, bass, guitar, and electric piano. Creates a sense of unease and tremendous momentum. Later section features arresting contrapuntal interplay from the group with musicians trading riffs, followed by a slow improvisation for electric piano before the group returns with a stately march tempo and then a short, propulsive finale.
Opens with piercing piano chords, then moves into a repetitive, trance-like riff for guitar, bass, and drums, with the electric piano improvising over the riff. Middle section features a slower electric guitar improvisation and then slow, insistent piano chords fading into nothingness.
A long, episodic group improvisation with a variety of tempos, opening with the distinctive, two-note bass riff and then the signature theme played on electric piano in moderate tempo before accelerating into a dramatic, extended, up-tempo assault on the senses. Ends with a glorious, screaming cacophony of guitars and synthesizers improvising over the original theme.
A long piece which alternates, after a quiet ominous beginning, between astringent lyricism from the two pianos and stabbing, percussive drama from the ensemble of bass, percussion and keyboards.
a short, quietly sinister mood piece for bass, percussion and guitar
Dramatic, intricate, sometimes rapid-fire riffing from the ensemble, with soaring lead from electric guitar, growling, ominous electric bass and a powerful closing. Highly evocative.
Foreboding keyboards establish an elusive, chromatically unstable melody before the ensemble joins in with a kind of lurching, macabre march -- which eventually accelerates into a hypnotic frenzy before slowing to a pensive close.