Saturday, 2 April 2016

EP: Twin Haus - Nothing Lavish

Twin Haus - Nothing Lavish

- Review by Noël Duplaa

Info: Experimental Australian prog-rock/post-rock 4-piece Twin Haus have just dropped their defining 4 track EP, Nothing Lavish. Following on from their last single release, Blood Tapes', this release sees them perfectly marry their daring psychedelic experimentalism to a tense and, one would assume, crowd slaying, version of explosive, melodic post rock which builds significantly on their debut EP, Waxen Myriad.

Right from the start, let’s put this in context - while this collection of songs is bundled as a 4-track EP, the sheer amount of ambition, invention and quality on display separate it from its supposed peers by quite some distance.  Weighing in at 28 minutes and 48 seconds long (8 seconds longer than The Strokes entire debut album), this is a collection that thinks in movements and moves in suites, each building on the progress of what’s gone before to deliver bigger and more resounding crescendos.  Like many post-rock standard bearers before them - think a nimbler Mogwai or a less blissed-out Explosions in the Sky - they focus on swells and crashes, shifting the pace and shape of the song at will with the grace and power of an approaching hurricane: beautiful from a distance, devastating up close. To speak plainly, the ambition alone of this EP is something to be relished, and the fact that it both achieves and supersedes this ambition is no mean feat.

Opening with a ghostly finger-picked progression reminiscent of Grizzly Bear’s freaked out, reverbed take on Americana, their deftly realised spectral soundscape gives way to a tightly coiled surge as Daniel Grima’s voice slides into a higher register, echoing the Radiohead of 'Knives Out' and '2+2=5'. By the time - 9 minutes later - that the opening track blends seamlessly into 'Self-Love', that section has built and dissipated, brass has latched onto and emboldened the silky intersecting melody lines, and the song has built and broken like Sigur Rós during their more violent ‘()’ apex. Radiohead are clearly a major influence on the band, but, more than just aping Radiohead’s moves, they seem to have picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the Oxford five-piece, and clearly delight in testing and stretching the limits of melodic rock songs to their own purposes.

And each song on the EP holds its own: 'Self-Love', flowing directly from the crescendo of the massive discordant ending of 'Synthetic Egg', repurposes the previous momentum with the addition of a Can-like krautrock beat, as the lead guitar spits Bends-era Jonny Greenwood broken phrases.  Lead single, 'I Used to Think', starts with a groovy, stuttering 5/4 beat, punctuated with shrieks of guitar, but shifts time signatures at will, building to a Jeff Buckley worthy finale. And that’s all before we get to the key track - 'The Revue'. 

Again, the drums are playing a stormer, keeping the pace while stripping away every few bars, creating the illusion of slowing down and speeding up - similar to the wooziness of stepping off an airport walkway.  Small builds punctuate verses as glowing guitar lines skitter around the central vocal.  Suddenly two minutes in, the tension breaks and we’re off, racing forward with filthy fuzz. That breaks down, and a slow build kicks in, ethereal falsetto shadowed by delayed guitar as the band thickens around the central motif.  Out of left field, a 4 snare hit takes the song into a different, downhill charge, alternating between light and dark as the drummer opens up the ride, gradually speeding, reminiscent of dEUS during their Instant Street pomp, gradually being eaten by the noise squall building behind it.

This is clearly the release of a band at peak confidence, basking in the comfort of having found their own voice. And it’s thrilling to listen to a band wield their power so effectively. While it’s incredibly clear that Twin Haus must surely be a phenomenal live proposition, this EP is the perfect translation of their chemistry and songwriting ability. On my first listen, in my notes I wrote a sentence that pretty much sums up how I feel about this EP: "These guys are not fucking around." Give Twin Haus 30 minutes of your life and that will be abundantly clear.

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