REVIEW: Twink - "Twink"

By Chris Eissing

Chain Border

TwinkTwink is a bunny. He is the protagonist of the picture book that comes with Mike Langlie's CD. Or maybe the CD comes with the book. They are hand in hand. The music is a strange and tender mix of memory that touches upon that place where our favorite childhood music-box toy tattooed a tinking nursery rhyme into our psyche. Both haunting and comforting in our adulthood, it captures an unadulterated piece of childhood within us without leaving out how the simplest things could be simultaneously eerie.

The picture book of Twink's adventure is every bit innocence distilled from an older, less naïve soul. Capturing an essence of something that still stirs, reminding us of a time when the dark was a sinister thing and joy was not difficult to find. The 25 songs loosely parallel the 32 illustrated pages as Twink, goes into the forest on a beautiful day, plays his toy piano for the birds and forest animals which helps an insomniac star to sleep, and falls asleep himself. He (or it could be she) awakens in the scary night. But Twink is spotted by the grateful star who lights his way home.

Using the toy piano as the central instrument lends heavily to the haunting sound, automatically plugging into a childhood archetype. Mike Langlie creates songs that are childhood. They are innocent and as sinister as our earliest memories, and as without blemish either way.

Hoppity Jones (maybe this is the rabbit's name and the star is named Twink. That might make more sense. Hmmm.) is every bit the soundtrack to jerky black and white Disney cartoons when 'talkies' were a novelty, complete with slide whistle. Feezle must be the favorite dance boogie the little happy crawlers under my sink play late at night. Do You Hear the Frog captures the see'n say archetypical sounds of childhood in pure digital samples, replete with record scratches. Its Hip-Hop animal sounds for ages 2 and up.

Moongirl goes from being a sweet piece inspired by twinkle little star to a synth-driven theme with darker moments. Sand and Fire is as happy a song as I've heard since I was too short to ride the rides at Great Adventure. A bouncy tune that reminds us of those .45's of children's music we found in the back of grandma's closet. Shy Violet is Langlie's Canon in D. A piece for a trio of toy piano, cello, and flute. It is delicate without being fragile. Perhaps the most powerful, yet not out of place song is Catnip. A fast-paced tune complete with guitar stylings that run the gamut of acoustic, wah-pedal finger pick and fuzz stabs. All backing up a toy piano, fattening out to a cleanly distorted solo.

Whoop-de-Doodle is goddamned fun. More fun than a cheesy jingle playing in Macy's window on V-E day. Someone has to name a puffed-cheese snack after this song. Tiny Footsteps is a musical recreation of a shy but innocently sweet mouse's trek across my living room floor. Dance of the Fireflies has all the trappings of being the sequel to In-a-Goda-Da-Vida. All it needs is a 15 minutes drums section. Sourpuss is a creepier selection. A danceable beat with music that would leave heavy trancers at the club scratching their head, and have those on X sucking both thumbs. This transitions straight into The Edge of Darkness. A lot of goth bands might have a song by this title, but none of them could be as downright sinister as Langlie's. Following 19 happy songs of innocence remembered gives it extra punch. Do not listen with the lights out, unless you like that sort of thing.

Box of Bones follows in the albums progression nicely. A little less dark, but not too much; a little sweeter, but not too much. And I can honestly say that in Night Sway I have heard my first actual use of a musical saw in a recorded work. The Nearest Star is a showcase of using music to capture an emotion and tell a story as it rushes, then lends to slumber almost as a lullaby.

I am thoroughly impressed by Twink. High marks alone for having wrested the toy piano from Daniel Johnston's straightjacketed arms. Mike Langlie has created something new. Not just for using the vehicle of musically accompanied picture-books known intimately by anyone who grew up pre-VCR and pre-Nickelodeon. Not just for using a novelty-instrument as its main voice. It is silly, fun, and mature. It is innocent, yet tickles something unsettling. He has taken the simplicity of melody that can best be appreciated by a child, captured its essence and crafted rich musical environments that tell a tale as well as any orchestra. I hear many musicians and songwriters blather about being artists, but this is art.

Buy The Album
Buy "Twink"

Contact Information:
Phone: (812) 491-0178
E-Mail: info@dyspepsidisc.com
Web: www.dyspepsidisc.com

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