Essential New Music: Trinary System’s “Lights In The Center Of Your Head”

Mission of Burma is on ice. The Boston Globe recently published a short article about bassist Clint Conley giving up his record collection; turns out that he, like many other people born during the Eisenhower administration, does most of his listening in the car. But that doesn’t mean that the Burmese rock ‘n’ roll well has gone dry, for drummer Peter Prescott has Minibeat and guitarist Roger Miller has Trinary System. 

If you know Burma, you’ll know that Trinary System is a tributary within a few seconds of putting down the needle. Miller’s punchy, rhythmic vocal phrasing has changed a bit, and he hasn’t forsaken the slash and squiggle attack that has always distinguished his guitar playing. But the music feels different. If Burma at its best had the jostling, bounded chaos of a really physical basketball game, Trinary System is a bit more like pro soccer. There’s more space between the players, more strategy in the transitions, and the music plays out patiently even when Miller is singing like he wants to get away from whatever he’s singing about. But the way he loudly proclaims his alienation and confusion—and the way his multi-segmented songs still reveal themselves a bit at a time—feels as familiar as an old friend who still gives it to you straight.

—Bill Meyer