In the second decade of the 21st century, amid woeful tales of decaying consumer spend and the alleged slow painful death of the recorded music business as we know it, one indomitable televisual franchise is bucking the trend; A popularity contest that saves the major pop machine from speculating on completely-unknown raw talent, but allowing both the winners and losers to thrive with equal chance in the real world, pre-nurtured by a well-ordered reality performance experience. Ultimately, this behemoth fourth quarter televisual journey is a commendable mechanism to remind middle-Britain of the value of music and take ownership of it, whether the shelf life is three weeks or three decades. Every year around this time, The X Factor lights up the charts in every possible way. Its effect on the media is gargantuan to the point of unavoidability from car magazines to fashion blogs. Even those who loath it, both fear and respect it. Cult experimental Leeds outfit trioVD respect it. So much so, they have crafted a conceptual EP called 'X', consisting of four songs inspired by the four personalities that make up the award winning television series' judging panel. Guitarist Chris Sharkey explains "Our intention here is not to mock this programme, the judges and, most importantly, the brave souls that enter this coliseum of contemporary culture. It is a musical response to the show. Some people vote. We make music." Little-known to the average X Factor viewer, trioVD (whose 2009 debut Fill it Up With Ghosts was named both MOJO Magazine's Jazz Album Of The Year) dive through a blundering thrash-metal take on Tulisa, through the celtic-jig-on-steroids come pseudo-power-ballad of Walsh, to the 90s pop peaks and monotone slumps of Barlow and the sensitivity and grace of trip-hop infused Kelly over 22 minutes. The beauty of trioVD's bizarre concept is the breadth of ways it can be considered. Any charge that 'X' is a gimmick can be dispelled quickly in consideration of the pride and enthusiasm that goes into trioVD's unmistakable compositions and performances. It could be supposed X Factor leaves no room for the brilliance of niche artists that the UK has to offer. With that said, releasing music of any form remains a game of natural selection that artists and labels willingly opt into. In which case, trioVD's 'X' is still a triumph if its association with an enormous televisual brand helps further its exposure to the world. 'X' is to be enjoyed by its fans be and loathed by its critics, like any other record, but overall appreciated as a palpable tribute to a cultural institution that will unquestionably go down in history. All this aside, it an absolutely fascinating listen.
"a fast, tight and awesomely expert conjunction of spiky high-energy compositions" -- The Guardian
"earth-shattering, taking a sledgehammer to preconceived limitations of jazz"
-- Time Out