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Twinsistermoon - Then Fell the Ashes

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Artist: Twinsistermoon

Album: Then Fell the Ashes

Label: Primary Numbers

Review date: Sep. 28, 2011

Sometimes the dark is just the dark. Sometimes there are the things in between. Twinsistermoon fits squarely in that category of things that refuse to fit squarely within a category — confounding and restless, thick and heavy as ocean fog, and just as hard to navigate with any degree of confidence. Great news for those of us who savor a little work now and again. Look, I love ELO as much as the next guy, but you can’t eat pizza everyday, yuknow? Sometimes you gotta have dried fruit and a shot of wheatgrass and feel good about it and actually FEEL good, and wonder why you don’t do it all the time. Which is kind of the right headspace to be in with an epic folk-drone burner like Then Fell the Ashes.

Twinsistermoon is a solo project by Mehdi Ameziane of Natural Snow Buildings, a French duo who have been traversing a similar psych/folk/drone terrain since the late-’90s. The songs here alternate between shorter, psych-folk pastorals and denser experimental drone pieces, a la Birchville Cat Motel or Alastair Galbraith. Most of the folky pieces feature Ameziane emoting in his entrancing, otherworldly tenor — a voice so unapologetically pretty and delicate that I probably listened to the album three times before realizing that Ameziane wasn’t a woman. To his credit, things never get too precious or sweet — the recording quality is murky and veiled enough to keep a slight remove while seeming incredibly intimate and up close at the same time. Haunted folk pieces like "Trailer" and "Ghost That Was Your Life" open up into long-form monsters like the title track, touching on blackest drone, avant-classical piano tinkling, and the darker side of 4AD’s excursions into proto-"hauntological" (barf) gloom and ethno-folk music (This Mortal Coil, His Name Is Alive, and the heartbreakingly beautiful Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares release all come to mind).

Anyone who’s spent time attempting to delve into the worlds Ameziane is straddling here knows that it can easily and quickly become a maddening exercise in endurance. Fortunately, he works both gears incredibly well over the course of a substantial full-length. My initial trepidation at what seemed to be an almost jarring juxtaposition of modes subsided with repeated listens. Then Fell the Ashes isn’t something to be digested and understood at one sitting, nor is it going to serve very well as background music; it demands complete attention. Twinsistermoon has performed a minor miracle by creating a modern compositional/folk/drone album that manages to simultaneously hold your attention while resisting any expectations of what an "album," as a piece, should sound like. Better still, is a moment that comes about 24 minutes into the 25 minute beast of a title track, where after almost half an hour of slowly building, shifting tonal bliss, Amaziane drops in his unearthly vocals to close out the track. The effect hits like an avalanche, and suggests a potential way forward for the project - one where drone and song co-habitate, instead of just living contentedly side-by-side. It’s a risky move, but you’ll never know what’s on the other side if you don’t jump.

By Jon Treneff

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