Twine – Violets

Twine
Violets

Twine is composed of Greg Malcolm and Chad Mossholder and Violets, their fourth studio album, focuses on the human voice in conversation and in singing mode. Greg and Chad build up their low-key electronic sound by sending files to each other over the internet, layering vocals, found sounds, loops of guitar, and ambient to droning electronics into songs that deal with the disconnect, discontent, and dissolution of the world and individual lives. The static, glitches, disembodied vocals, and attenuated sounds form a dichotomy of melody and noise that reflects the isolated, fractured, and distant modern world.

While the songs on Violets are hit or miss, with some songs devolving into long phone conversations or tipping the balance into noise, other songs are haunting and intimate. The spare instrumental “Small” features a steady rainfall, a mix of Western guitar strum and plucked, contemplative guitar notes, and reverberating corrugated metal sounds.

Standout track “Endormie” works wonders with Alison Shaw of Cranes on guest vocals. It’s slow-paced and long at over eight minutes, but it captivates musically and vocally, like being caught in a drawn-out dream state. Alison’s vocals drift in and out of the song, as she either speaks sweetly in French phrases about feeling like she’s not awake, or sings longingly in English that “There’s a wonderful place out there / but I don’t know where to go.” Her words are echoed and elongated against loops of steely, bending guitar lines, slippery, skittering electronics, and a slowly dawning, ominous sound in the background.

“In Through the Devices” drops in on pieces of a telephone conversation between a distraught girl, who is about to run away from home, and her father or uncle, who talks the girl down from running away by stating in a matter of fact tone that “Nobody in this family hates you.” Meditative, sliding, steely guitar lines and a ghostly backdrop contrast with restless electronic glitches and crackle.

Gail Schadt is featured on the downbeat “From Memory” and her voice is similar to Suzanne Perry of Love Spirals Downwards, with a smooth, sweet, airy, but melancholy tone matched with reverberating guitar strum that gets a little fuzzier as the song progresses. At under two minutes, this song is more like an outtake, and one that is way too short. Gail also sings on “Something Like Eternity”, amid a fast-spinning metallic sound, and her vocals are highly echoed and contain a tinge of distortion. Again, at under one and a half minutes, this song feels like an extract that should have been fleshed out to leave a more lasting impression. I guess the song title is meant to be ironical…