KNITTING BY TWILIGHT
Knitting By Twilight are an experimental band centred around multi-instrumentalist John Orsi, who plays a wide range of percussion instruments (including some unusual ones like boomywang, bell tree, and something possibly improvisational called Evelyn's metals), plus keyboards, glockenspiel and xylophone. Guitars also appear courtesy of the other band members, Karen Orsi, Manny Silva and Mike Marando, each of whom appears on selected tracks.
The band have a number of CDs out on It's Twilight Time (their own label, I would think), the most recent being the 5 track EP Riding the Way Back. The quaint 1950s artwork favoured by the band does not prepare the listener for their actual sound. Shiver is a sort of off-kilter instrumental noisepop with some occasional dissonant moments, harsh angular percussion contrasting with cutesy glockenspiel, quite post-rockish at times. Mik's Glacier is an arty percussion piece, adding dark ominous synth and ice-cold sound effects. She's Here features improvisational percussion and one-note guitar harshness. Blue Ink For Fountain Pens combines doomy gothic rock and prog, the cheerful sounding xylophone juxtaposing with the dark atmosphere of everything else. Twirling Guitars and Glad Tambourines brings together psychedelic guitar, odd sound effects, tinkling glockenspiel, and multiple percussion instruments, producing a very 'busy' sound. Some very original ideas here; the music is melodic but very much avant garde, and on the whole sounds like little else that's out there.
Preceding this EP was the album An Evening Out of Town, another collection of very inventive instrumentals. Many supposedly experimental bands are characterised by their overuse of the minimalist drone; a lot of these bands end up sounding exactly the same as each other because of it and cease to be experimental. Knitting By Twilight have a much more original approach. They do use drones on tracks like Soothing Stars, but the drone is not the entire content of the track; it is used as additional texture, combined with a whole host of other components such as percussion, speech snippets, rumbling bass, glockenspiel, panpipe-like keyboard, wah wah guitar and so on, all mixed up in a way that is genuinely experimental and artistic.
The whole album is characterised by such things as atmospheric effects and unusual use of percussion. Improvisational, weird, harsh and dissonant moments coexist with strongly or subtly melodic sections. There is no noise for the sake of noise here, no thrown together rubbish that even a child could make, the sort of nonsense that all too often unfortunately characterises certain areas of the experimental genre. Knitting By Twilight produce real works of aural art, cliche free.
I also have some older CDs by Knitting By Twilight and related projects, which were sent to me at a time when everyday life got in the way of zine writing, and I was therefore unable to review them at the time. Although these CDs are a few years old now, they are still available, and may well have escaped the attention of many readers, so are still worth mentioning here.
Knitting By Twilight's CD Someone to Break the Silence is billed as selections from their (at the time) forthcoming album An Evening Out of Town, together with exclusive tracks. In fact the only track that appears on the album is Audrey - the other 4 are exclusive to this release. Sigh is an atmospheric, melodic instrumental with elements of post-rock and dreampop. Holiday to Holiday is a song-based track, which is rare for this usually instrumental band. The song could be described as an off-kilter version of dreampop, with dark gothic undercurrents. She's Here, from Riding the Way Back, is a stripped-down and very different version of a track from this EP, entitled She's Not Here She's Far Ahead. The arty, unusual percussion is familiar from She's Here, but otherwise this version has a wholly different approach and also features vocals. This bizarre track is full of inventiveness and could be described as 'experimental gothic pop'. Mr Santini features wailing improvisational psychedelic rock guitar, a chugging synth bassline and atmospheric effects. Audrey is an ethereal experimental instrumental, with some sound effects that sound 'clicky' and almost mechanical.
Moments of Suspension is a compilation CD featuring Knitting By Twilight and three other bands that include John Orsi, namely Blueshift Signal, Overflower, and Incandescent Sky. Knitting By Twilight's Song One 2 is an instrumental featuring surprisingly melodic percussion along with ethereal, psychedelic and progressive elements, creating a sound that is very beautiful. Float by Blueshift Signal is instrumental dreampop with a hint of post-rock. Cafe Without Words by Overflower is post-rock combining drone and melody. Incandescent Sky's Light House is an ethereal psych instrumental with some possibly improvised bits, and that bizarre avant garde percussion style that characterised some of the later material by Knitting By Twilight. The following four tracks on this comp are by Knitting By Twilight. Sad Top is a classical inspired piece with synthesised woodwind. Swallowed (parts 2 & 3) is from the darker, harsher side of their output but still not lacking in melody or atmosphere. The eponymous track Knitting By Twilight combines psych with whirring experimental sounds. Oba is music composed for Alexandra Meijer-Werner's film Mudra, combining elements of prog, spacerock and experimental music.
Overflower's album Water On Mars was released a couple of years prior to the above compilation, and is stylistically very different from their track on there. This album is melodic, song-based dreampop that's very much recommended for fans of this genre. The slightly gothic undercurrents of some tracks makes the album particularly recommended for anyone who appreciates the shoegaze/ethereal side of the Projekt label. Overflower also add quite a spacey, psychedelic vibe to tracks such as Rise and Crawl, which is an effective synthesis of dreampop, post-punk and psych. Thank You brings together dreampop and melancholic old-school janglepop, creating what is very much an early 90s feel. Breezy is aptly named, the ethereal atmosphere of the instrumentation conjuring up images of a gentle breeze. This airy feel is juxtaposed with the song itself, a laid-back yet soaring song with shades of both 70s rock and the gutsier side of contemporary indie music. Tunnel to Shore is an epic 9.34 mins, the first part of the track being upbeat, then slowing right down around 4 minutes into the song. The track is a more atmospheric take on the mid 80s jangly indiepop sound.
The Garden is an ethereal gothic number, brooding and melancholic. The Visitor combines a slow, drawn-out dreampop song with atmospheric drones and frenetic drumming. Calling In The Light features a distinctive drumbeat of the type more often associated with electronic music, but played on real drums; the droney but melodic instrumentation also recalls ambient music. This is all combined with a sombre, melancholic old-style indiepop song. With a lot of dreampop, the voice is just used as another instrument, but Overflower write real songs, with strong tunes and meaningful lyrics that are not buried under swathes of noise. Overflower are still unmistakably a shoegaze/dreampop band, but add something of their own that makes them stand out from the crowd in this genre.
For further info, and to purchase all the above CDs and more, visit www.itstwilightmusic.com
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