A bass clef three hander awaits the adventurous listener in Twinscapes. Written and performed by Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree fame, and his Italian colleague Lorenzo Feliciati, whom I last came across as part of the appropriately named nu-jazz combo Beserk!, and produced by bass-wrangler supreme Bill Laswell, Twinscapes is an excursion into the sonorous rumblings of the bottom end.
Ably assisted by such illustrious guests as respected “future jazz” trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, saxophonist David Jackson (VdGG), percussion player Andi Pupato (Nik Bartsch’s Ronin), and drummer Roberto Gualdi (PFM), Colin and Lorenzo have made an album that is more than simply a four-stringers’ masterclass, and at the same time it is also less than that.
If I may explain; Twinscapes can be listened to intently, and the listener will pick out all kinds of subtle nuances; synth colourings, intricate percussion, both real and programmed, sampling, clever use of bass harmonics and intertwined scales, all this and more make for an involving listen, if you are in that mood. On the other hand it can be listened to barely at all, for at a low volume it makes superb background music for study, work, or just for quiet contemplation.
The 11 pieces here are contrapuntal low-end skeletons upon which improvisational sketches are drawn by the instrumentation in the top end of the mix. There is a lightness of touch that gives an overall calming effect, even through the more uptempo numbers such as Conspiracy. This is the main reason why the album can be used as background, usually a condemnation, but this time I mean it as a compliment, although Twinscapes rises above being mere aural wallpaper, as there is an inquisitiveness of spirit about this work.
A mid-range bass riff that echoes back an octave higher forms the backing on the first section of opening track Shaken, before a joint fuzzy riff from lower down the scale takes this relatively simple construct into a white funk groove over which synth drones buzz and fade. This track is propelled along in an insistent fashion by Roberto’s powerful but unobtrusive drumming. That was an interesting start that highlights the intricate nature of an album, that, as I said, can be listened to in with two completely different mindsets.
Alice and Dreamland are two tracks that do not have guest musicians, and our two intrepid bass explorers create Enoesque soundscapes that both soothe and enquire. The squelchy riff on Dreamland played by both Colin and Lorenzo in harmony is a sinuous caress that leaves the listener in a meditative mood. The sound on the video above is not the best, but it gives you an idea of their intuitive interplay.
Breathsketch features some dextrous fretless work by Lorenzo, followed by Transparent, which marks its languid and stately progress on the back of some lovely pure toned trumpet work from Nils Petter Molvaer. The visceral saxophone playing of David Jackson is all over i-Dea, including a trademark double reed excursion. This is the most expansive track on the record, and for me the most enjoyable.
Some more highlights; Perfect Tool is introduced with a space funk riff from Colin, and some more of Roberto’s conversational drumming help drive the piece along at a pace. Sparse stars sublime trumpet playing from Nils, and the guitar sound on Solos comes from an old bouzouki Lorenzo found in the studio.
This is a truly collaborative project, where neither player attempts to out-do the other as can sometimes happen in improvised music. This is particularly pertinent in this case, as the duo had very little planning and rehearsal time before laying down the tracks, in a studio “somewhere in the English countryside”. As Lorenzo says “…Colin and I fit together so perfectly and we actually had more fun and joy playing together interactively rather than having one do the rhythm and one do the soloing”. It is a cliché, but true in this case, for Twinscapes is an album where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
01. Shaken (5:56)
02. Alice (5:54)
03. In Dreamland (6:25)
04. Breathsketch (3:27)
05. Transparent (4:55)
06. i-Dea (6:01)
07. Conspiracy (3:44)
08. Perfect Tool (4:11)
09. Sparse (4:52)
10. Yügen (6:20)
11. Solos (6:38)
Total Time – 58:24
Colin Edwin – Fretless & Fretted Basses, E-bows, Rhythm Programming & SuperEgo
Lorenzo Feliciati – Fretless & Fretted Basses, Keyboards, Guitar & Space Station
Nils Petter Molvaer – Trumpet (5 & 9)
Andi Pupato – Various percussions and Metallics (4, 6, 10 & 11)
David Jackson – Saxophones (6)
Roberto Gualdi – Drums (1 & 8)
Record Label: Rare Noise Records
Year Of Release: 2014