Twine's recent self-titled full-length on Ghostly International is an album that keeps its secrets well hidden. The action takes place beneath the veil of textures that form the surface of the music. It could be called ambient, and at times it naturally relegates itself to the background, but for the most part, these are elegant compositions, darkly sensual outposts on the road to dreamland that take shape slowly.
Guitar samples figure heavily, stretched out and processed but easily distinguishable. At times sparse synthetic beats dart beneath the unfolding melodies and textures, taut and carefully accentuated, informing the tension without drastically altering the dynamics. "Counting Off Again" is a piece of minimal IDM anchored by a rubbery kick and a terse hi-hat, while seductive female vocal snippets float above the beat. The beautiful and intricately programmed "Kalea Morning" whips pattering hi-hats and drum machines across a sea of sirens stretched out for miles in every direction.
Women singing wordlessly and random vocal cut-ups play prevalent roles here. "Plectrum" opens with an acoustic guitar playing a short muted minor-key progression. Soon voices begin to accumulate – a woman and a man speak short phrases and bits of words in breathy voices. "And on this guitar I’m strummin’, and on this mandolin I’m playin’" recites some Country-Western crooner. The use of sampled speech throughout the album focuses more on the sound of the voice than the meaning of what is said, with each word taking on a loosely associative role that helps define the atmosphere.
The fascinating aspect of Twine’s music is the way in which dynamic shifts are created and compositions are steered by brief, understated, but effective flourishes. This might be ambient music, but it is not without a clear trajectory. Melodic sources are slowed to a crawl and woven together; the shifting textures revealed create a continuously unfolding flow as the details slowly sink to the bottom of the mix. The effect is often mesmerizing, slipping into the subconscious and holding your attention even as your mind wanders.
Twine’s main weakness is their adherence to lengthy, deliberate compositions. The consistency of the palette adds up well, but begins to grow a little wearisome towards the end of the record. The varying beats are a welcome change of pace, but even these don’t completely depart from the lulling formula. Nevertheless, it is for the most part a focused and deftly crafted sound world. An idyllic place to close your eyes.
By Jesse Serrins