01 February 2011

Twitch the Ripper : Bodiless

Back in May 2009, I reviewed Twitch the Ripper's EP Don't Go Out Tonight. This band from Connecticut in the US had a sound that really appealed to my sensibilities and I've been looking forward to hearing their first album with high levels of anticipation.

This debut album, Bodiless, enshrouds every beautiful element I expected from the minds and hands of Jon Dobyns and Lonn Bologna. Seamless electronic grooves with soft melodies and almost primal percussion.

The first track, Disconnected, begins with an '80s sounding synth, melding into dreamy vocals and the gentle plucking of guitar with some subtle distortion and reverb. The synth sounds are reminiscent of Yazoo era Vince Clarke while the mid-final percussive section of the song is all early Depeche Mode.

The title track Bodiless is a wonderfully atmospheric, haunting song. The lyrics and vocals are intensely sensual and some of the keyboard effects in this are unexpected.  The insistent percussion in this song is strongly reminiscent of that on the Tears for Fears album, The Hurting. Which is great for me, it being one of my favourites.

Next track, Bright is Impossible, is my favourite on the album. Relying heavily on layered, breathy harmonies and interesting melody changes, it moves from dark to alt-Sade smoothly. 

Nothing in these empty sheets
But sacred uncertainty
Bright Is Impossible
I’m swimming in your sea
It’s how you’ll get to know me
Bright Is Impossible

I especially love the heavy synth groove toward the end. 

Never Got You Anywhere has an infinitely more club-friendly rhythm, while retaining the echoed vocals and '80s electronic vibe.

White as the marble I laid you on
This old place stood, with forgotten bloom
You soaked me in, toes curling reaching for the moon
It reminds you how it speaks to your skin
Do it again

Keep Me Cold has a snake-like charm, weaving its way through your body to gently probe your soul. Mortality, water and sensuality continue as lyrical inspirations. 

Held under the water
It feels better down here
Thought he saw her
Until she disappeared

Body Blue changes approach slightly with a funkier bass line and a very strong chorus. Eternity reminds me of New Order, with hints of Blue Monday percussion and synth. Nurse Price, a slower track, is heavy with atmosphere. 

A Place for Polaris returns to form, filled with yearning melancholia. 

Haven’t done all I can do
Suspend me from the delicate image of the truth

This is primal
Glazed together
Passion is forever

It's a fitting note on which to end the album, encapsulating all that is memorable of Twitch the Ripper's sound and appeal. The juxtaposition with this band is you never quite know if their lyrics are about love, death, misery or pain. My guess is all of the above.

If you like poetic, sensual music with an '80s electronica temperament, vibrant percussion and dreamlike vocals, you will love this album. Already a favourite for this year. I love this band and am sure they won't remain a secret for long.

Read more about Twitch the Ripper and buy this album. 

Footnote: In May 2011, I was fortunate to interview Jon Dobyns. Read it for a deeper insight to what drives the band, their lyrics and sound.

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