REVIEW: Twine - "Recorder"

By Matt Borghi

Chain Border

Twine is Greg Malcolm and Chad Mossholder. What makes Twine interesting is that they work separately divided by a continent. Malcolm is an audio engineer that lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio; Mossholder lives and works as a sound designer in Boulder, Colorado. It's my understanding that the two of these guys do all of their work by transferring sounds, and sonic ideas over the Internet via high bandwidth lines. The two work separately together and the results are both profound and provocative.

I've seen Twine perform a couple times now. Each time I've seen them perform it's been very IDMish, and with a strong sense of Warp-ian aesthetic, a'la Autechre and Boards of Canada. I was pleasantly surprised when I put their CD in and it sounded nothing, or almost nothing, like the performances that I had witnessed in the past. I wasn't quite sure what to say, or write for that matter, as I listened to the recording. I didn't have the aesthetic toolbox to critique it on its own merits. I let the recording gestate. I lived with the recording for a while, and the end result is less of a critique and more a series of thoughts on the recording…but that's what a recording review is supposed to be anyway.

The PR materials that accompanied Twine's Recorder made a variety of references to works that I just couldn't correlate. Particularly one writer asserted that there was a strong bent towards early Pink Floyd. I can kind of see that as far as the spirit of improvisation and sound art goes, but Malcolm and Mossholder are much more sophisticated, both musically and intellectually, than the young Syd Barrett or Roger Waters were when they were idealistically experimenting with sound. There was another assertion that correlated them to John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Now this is an assertion that I can get with. I would probably add Pierre Schaefer and Pierre Henry in there as well, but it's this updated sound early electronic music that Twine's Recorder comes closest to hitting.

Twine's Recorder is one of the first recordings since the advent of Krautrock and the like to nod to early academic electronic music. Too much schlock these days is called electronic music. Moby is electronic music; Fat Boy Slim is electronic music, hell, even Madonna is electronic music…it's as if any recording with the stagnant, and at this point stifling, 808 kick drum is electronic music.

This is quite some deviation from the roots of electronic music. What electronic music is, is irrelevant. What is relevant is that there are two very sophisticated gentleman carrying the torch for such electronic music pioneers as Cage, Stockhausen, Schaeffer and making the music accessible to a whole new audience on an entirely new level. Interesting still is that this work has an academic tendency. Unlike much of the sine-wave-drone-rubbish that Mills and other institutions touting electronic music pop out on a semesterly basis, it doesn't alienate the listener. Instead it invites them in. Twine's Recorder is of the highest audiophile quality and speaks to an aesthetic that is both fresh and unique, yet it is still familiar enough, compositionally, to be inviting. This is an exceptionally original recording and one that speaks to a broad aesthetic that eschews any glitch or IDM specifications that one may put on it.

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