Twiddle Releases Second Half of ‘PLUMP’ Courtesy or Guests, Strings, Horns and Outside Producer (ALBUM REVIEW)

©Jay Blakesberg

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The four-piece jam band from Vermont known as Twiddle has now released the second half to their long-winded double album experiment, PLUMP.  Spanning the course of two years and multiple recording sessions with a huge number of guests on all sorts of string, horn and choral arrangements and the band’s first experience with a producer, Claude Villani, PLUMP: Chapter Two closes the experimental book of firsts and presents the band’s hard work to the masses.

Recording the double-disc album PLUMP was not necessarily as quick and easy as the band thought it would be, according to bassist Zdenek Gubb. “It was always supposed to be a double disc album, it was just super tough,” Zdenek told Sound and Silence earlier this month. “Once we started doing the first half of the album, we never realized how tough it really was going to be to do a double disc album. Initially, I think we had maybe close to enough material but just to get the one-half finished and sounding the way we wanted it to and everything, it was just so much work.”

But given that extra time from Chapter One to Chapter Two may have proven to be a blessing. Whereas the majority of Chapter One had been played out live, road tested by the December 2015 release date, and written almost exclusively by lead singer and guitarist Mihali Savoulidis, almost all of Chapter Two was written collectively by the band and kept secret from the fans until just this month.

Seven of the 15 tracks on Plump: Chapter Two are instrumentals, and the other 8 are split almost equally between Savoulidis, Gubb, keyboardist Ryan Dempsey and drummer Brook Jordan.

“It’s sort of a new thing for us,” Savoulidis admitted to Marquee Mag back in February. “Each one of us has our own set of influences in the kind of music that we dig and like to write, and that comes out in the songs.  It’s very cool. You can kinda hear the personalities coming out through the parts of each of these songs. [Chapter Two] is definitely an eclectic blend of stuff.  There are all kinds of music on it and there is not one defining genre at all.”

Chapter Two opens with the album’s shortest and longest songs back to back, “Enter”, which is a 38 second piano interlude, and “Orlando’s”, a nine and a half minute odyssey of sharp keys, deep funk grooves and a scorching lead guitar line flush with timeless swells a la Mott The Hoople. The extended instrumental intro shifts through no less than four movements in as many minutes before Savoulidis’ story enters.

The heavy distortion and sliding noise that kicks off the third track, “Juggarnaut,” brings out an entirely different side of Twiddle, less awkward string band and more Rage Against The Machine with it’s politically charged lyrics and violent chorus: “You wanna kick me in the face cause I’m different!” At three and a quarter minutes long, it is the second shortest track but one of the hardest punches.

Another distinct style change emerges on the next track, “Moments” might be the most familiar sound that people hear when they think Twiddle, mostly with the splashy reggae bounce of the keys and the wide-open drum pocket. But even in its familiarity, it is still a finely tuned example of the band’s direction forward as much as it is reflective of where they came from.

“Milk” is a progressive jaunt featuring Tim Palmieri (Kung Fu) that takes the listener through a flurry of Caribbean piano motifs and a super light hi-hat flutter that encourage the lead guitar through a fadeaway into a percussion outro. The fast-paced narrative about “Nicodemus Potulay” follows with “New Sun”, written and sang by Jordan, and Dempsey’s solo piano balled “Forevers” closing out the first half of the album.

The second half of the double album opens just as strong as the first half, with a three-song 18-minute romp from the wildly intricate harmonics of “The Fantastic Tale Of Ricky Snickle”, through the upbeat and fanciful piano leads and soaring guitars of “Peas and Carrots” and into “Drifter”, an incredibly uplifting yarn about second chances, redemption delivered by Jordan.

“Blunderbuss” is one of only two tracks that fans had been privileged to hear before the album was released, followed by “Fat Country Baby”. Bbarely over a minute long, “Fat Country Baby” is a hootin’ and hollerin’ barnyard stomp written by Gubb that only has one line that it repeats through the song. It’s fun, but out of place ahead of the closing instrumental tracks “Dinner Fork” and “Purple Forests”.

Overall, Twiddle’s latest grooves, runs fast and deep and it never stays in one genre too long, unless you count the omni-present blanket of reggae that finds its way into most tracks. Call Chapter Two another progressive step in the unhurried career of Twiddle.

 

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