Truly a group for the tech age, Twine is much like the Books in that its collaborators -- Greg Malcolm and Chad Mossholder -- live more than a thousand miles apart and trade their material online. This, Twine's self-titled sophomore album, opens with two minutes of detuned and handpicked electric guitar backed by random dialogue and percussive bumps. Their songs come as collages, created from what seem like absolutely un-incredible moments.
Slightly off-key strings, missed notes and abstract vocal bursts introduce a distinctly acoustic flavor into their programmed world. Every noise undergoes electronic treatments but remains strangely personable, its strums and burps revealing their imperfections more appealingly than those of the electronic majority. At times, the wavering guitar notes require lyric-less melodies to balance their compositions, but Twine's lo-fi aesthetic prevents any new age embroidery from clouding the record.
The twelve-minute long "Kalea Morning" will divide the enthusiastic from the uninterested. Some will think that its shifty rhythmic afterthoughts and single hanging notes comprise a stunning ambient backdrop. Others will find themselves barely able to tolerate the continued drudgery. And both arguments have merit.
Those expecting the beats to take off and explode will be sorely disappointed, but Twine is decidedly not a monotonous bore. The most exciting moments of "Piano" are delicate: single reverse keyboard tones forming dramatic progressions amid ten thousand square feet of reverb. "Girl Song" is a rhythmic pattern built on the continual retuning of a guitar, set apart by the timed female vocal samples, which sound much closer to South Asian chant than any recognizable Western style (or language) and hum throughout the track with beautiful restraint.
Another standout is "Plectrum," where a repeated guitar chord sits punctuated by some of the only recognizable phrases on the album: "Good morning, goodnight" and a short rumination concerning "the guitar I'm playin' ... and the thoughts that I'm thinkin' ... and the words that I'm writin' ... " Twine seems to find several perfect moments when the single chord begins to grow old, and they respond by jumping key for one heightened phrase, only to immediately resume the first static pattern.
That the members of Twine very obviously do not just push the buttons and sit back helps them escape the chronic stagnation so unfortunately prevalent in ambient music. Their style nods toward traditional sources like Eno, Harold Budd and Aphex Twin while contorting their influence into an original variation. Realistically, this record will at no time become a staple for any sort of gathering without sessions of intense contemplation, but it rewards the fickle mind with surprising revelations.
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