Label: 37d03d, 2019
Personnel - Dustin Laurenzi: tenor saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Katie Ernst: bass, vocals; Andrew Green: drums, percussion, gankogui bells.
Formed in 2012, the adventurous Chicago-based trio Twin Talk is composed of reed player and main composer Dustin Laurenzi, bassist/vocalist Katie Ernst, and drummer Andrew Green. Their sophomore album, Weaver, has no harmonic coloration in its passages but that doesn’t mean a less rich sonic palette. In fact, they seize on overdubbing and a careful post-production treatment to attain the desired sound and texture.
The title cut opens the record with sax-vocals consonance, preceding a groove that will sustain more unison phrases, this time accented by each of the group members, whose actions weigh equally in the final product. As the song moves forward, a cloudy rock accumulation invites Laurenzi to improvise before Ernst’s wordless vocals catch him toward the final theme.
The art of delivering witty unison licks with perfect notions of tempo and attack is featured in many of the tunes. “Five” and “The Sky Never Ends” are two good models. The former bestows a sense of floating, which, disturbed by the creative stomp of the drummer, evolves into something muscular and uncanny; the latter begins in a relaxed 4/4 before slightly dissonant layers and odd-metered passages with looped phrases come to life. The third phase of the song is slightly darker, gliding on an unrugged surface built on the basis of drones.
If “Folks” shows the band’s affinity for easygoing pop/rock with a tasteful beat and nice melodic paths trailed by overdubbing horns, then “Paxton” adopts a true rocking posture marked by a resilient spirit and explorative temperament. The driving rhythm and freedom of movements get them closer to the avant-garde genre; yet, the tune ends in a sluggish 3/4 after some abrupt transitions.
The sculptural shape of some pieces brought The Lounge Lizards and Blake Tartare to mind, while the vocalized intonations reminded me of Sara Serpa. Still, an regardless of any inspirational source, the band speaks with its own voice.
Written by Ernst, “Human Woman” and “Solace” are showcases for her voice, with the former offering an elated Eastern-like chant, later delivered in tandem with the saxophone until morphing into separate ostinatos.
With each member injecting distinct flavors into the music according to their creative individualities, Weaver is a step up in the Twin Talk’s out-of-the-mainstream jazz/rock spin.
03 - Human Woman ► 07 - The Sky Never Ends ► 08 - Paxton