Monday, May 30, 2016

CD Review: Twin Talk

Twin Talk
Twin Talk

The term "twin talk" comes from the phenomena of cryptophasia, and refers to a secret language that many twins develop at an early age. The Chicago group that uses that term as an identifier actually consists of three people, Andrew Green (drums), Katie Ernst (bass/vocals) and Dustin Laurenzi (tenor saxophone). Nevertheless, the concept make sense when considering the way musicians communicate through music.

Twin Talk's sophomore release features a set of originals where all three interact, often beginning with simple melodies that lead into improvisations which build alternately on straight vamps and rhythmically challenging ones. Laurenzi, who penned all but three of the tracks, likes to volley two- to three-note licks off of Ernst's bass. This happens in the opening "Colorwheel" and "One Foot in Front of the Other," though both tracks yield different results. The latter adds Ernst's voice to the mix, blending with the saxophone like a languid fourth instrument. The repetition gets a bit unnerving at first, recalling Patty Waters at her more tranquil moments, but it eventually breaks into a steady groove that merits the anticipation. "Colorwheel" by contrast is bright and staccato from the get-go.

Ernst sings two of her own songs, which provide greater contrast to the set. "Living Room" is the more unique of the two, where she bows long tones over equally languorous tenor lines and double-time brushes from Green. The one-chorus lyric sounds like a abstract poem that accentuates the melody. "Hush Hush" seems a little closer to a folk tune, perhaps, but neither piece fits easily into any expectations of jazz vocals, which makes both of them work.

For the rest of the album, the trio comes up with pieces that grab the ear either through their ease with odd grooves ("J.J.", "Eleven," the bridge of "Teddy") or strong sense of interaction ("Rupert," with its ascending bass double-stops and use of toms and climactic fills). Ernst demonstrates a particularly thick tone on her instrument, opening her "Martha" with a solo that recalls Charlie Haden's pensive voice. Laurenzi plays with a sense of economy, using a strong narrative to make points without the need to show flash. That role is filled by Green, who doesn't exactly chew up the scenery so much as adds incisive accents that boost the music in all the right places.  In some ways, Twin Talk evokes JD Allen's trio, who can take riffs and put an amazing shine on them. But it's easy to feel a greater sense of adventure just below the surface with these three, such as when they move into free territory or add vocals. Follow this band.


Matthew Golombisky said...

Thanks so much for your support!

shanleymusic said...

Pleasure is all mine, Matthew. Keep up the good work with the label!