Tuesday, September 12, 2023

New Music: Twospeak - Keep The Aspidistra Flying; ENEMY - Neglecting Number One (single)

Twospeak - Keep The Aspidistra Flying 

Twospeak are band leader and saxophonist Ronan Perrett’s bold and dynamic four-piece that draw inspiration equally from the world of contemporary London jazz, bands like The Bad Plus as well as the 1970’s Canterbury scene of Soft Machine and Caravan, Hot Rats-era Zappa and Deerhoof-esque indie rock, putting this all together in a heady brew and sounding uniquely themselves.

Twospeak's name is derived from the balancing act between words used to get through day- to-day life and the language of emotion, mood and storytelling humans have been expressing through music for thousands of years. That delicate balancing act is re!ected in the distinctive music the group make.

Born in the contemporary jazz scene, the band consists of Ronan Perrett (saxophone), Mike De Souza (guitar), Joseph Costi (keys, synths) and Ben Brown (drums) - musicians from groups such as Waaju, Byron Wallen’s Four Corners, Caravela and Dizraeli

'Keep The Aspidistra Flying' is the first single from the band’s new album 'Fictions', their debut for None More Records and third LP overall, due out in November 2023. Built around an off-kilter groove and circling riff, the song builds and disintegrates in and out, building each time as a different member of the group stretches out. De Souza’s distorted guitar wash and Costi’s keys add an eerie atmosphere on top of the tight rhythms provided by Ben Brown.

This first single draws inspiration from George Orwell’s 1936 novel of the same name, as each song on 'Fictions' is based on a piece of non-musical art which include paintings, sculpture, literature and film.

Ronan says of the novel “I related to the main character’s struggle with finding a balance between compromising on his artistic integrity, in this case as a writer, and on the resulting consequences his decisions brought to his life.”

'Fictions' represents a huge step forward for the band, building on the previous albums 'Twoism' and 'Re!ector', really taking the band to new heights.

ENEMY - Neglecting Number One (single) 

ENEMY, the trio of drummer James Maddren, pianist Kit Downes and bassist Petter Eldh unveil new single 'Neglecting Number One', taken from their upcoming We Jazz Records debut titled 'The Betrayal', out 22 September 2023.

After their self-titled debut (Edition, 2018) and the follow up ('Vermillion', ECM 2022), the explosive yet lyrical trio is seeking new directions with the 12-track new record, arguably their strongest yet.

'The Betrayal' consists of all original material penned by Downes and Eldh. It's an album of "purposeful contradictions and a shedding of skin", a studio recording recorded within the scope of a single day, edited, produced and mixed by the band themselves. In their own words, the band "doesn't really rehearse, playing a lot live, taking risks, always writing new music, always playing as fresh as possible", and evolving in the process.

Careful listeners will quickly notice how different from 'Vermillion' the new album is. Where once was echo and reverb, is now rhythmic intensity and a more compact sense of sound. The band sounds closer, their movement seems more focused. If ENEMY would have a motto, it would be "no risk, no fun". True to this, The Betrayal has its sudden twists and turns, yet the trio never loses sight of what makes the music theirs. It wouldn't be fair to call them "experimental", at least for the sake of using such a vague word, but they do experiment, having fun while at it. Listen to the three albums in one serving and you'll surely hear many directions in music being suggested, tried out, perfected, thrown out, and taken into processing again. You can also hear it within a single track at times.

While being on the move at all times, they have a real "swing" in their sound, and there's always a bigger idea for the music than just playing it, whatever it might be at any given moment. Their music is natural, and why not, for it's based on long-time collaboration and friendship.

As Kit Downes once said: "Whatever the situation is, I'm always looking forward to meeting up with Petter and James again, discussing everything from W.G. Sebald, to Eels, to Mad Max (Fury Road) to East Croydon."

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