Twelve - "First Album"
(Silber Records 2003, silber031)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: January 2004
UK based Twelve grew out of a band called Six By Seven, a group I've never heard of but the Silber Records folks sound pretty excited about them. Twelve is the trio of Chris Olley on guitar, bass keyboards and vocals, Chris Davis on drums (both from Six By Seven), and Tee Dymond on vocals and Fender Rhodes. My interest was further piqued by the promo sheet description that "if Neil Young was writing Harvest with Low as his backing band or if Lou Reed had teamed up with Eno for Berlin it might sound something like this". Hmmmmm.... gotta check this out.
The CD opens with "Intro", a steady pulsating sound wave that straddles the line between ambience and drone. It develops ever so slowly, but if you focus on this hypnotic wave then the subtle shifts in direction will jar your brain as you discover how mantra-like it's settled into your senses. The 11 minute "Talkin About" is next and couldn't be further away from "Intro". It's a valium paced song with a slow strumming guitar and beautiful soaring atmospheric and orchestral keyboard melodies. Olley starts off the vocals by himself, having a brooding style that's not unlike Nick Drake, and when Dymond joins in she sounds much like a female version of the same. The music reminds me a lot of the slowly building guitar driven songs heard on the first few King Black Acid albums. "Travelin' Light" goes in still another direction, having a cool dance groove, but includes similar keyboards to those lovely sounds heard on "Talkin' About". But the music quickly starts to take on a drifting space quality, and while the percussion keeps things moving in a linear direction there's also a jam feel to the music and the whole rhythmic vibe sounds like Neu! or Can.
"Never Let You Go" is a nice dreamy song with a spacey edge that might have some pop potential. "Now" is the most mainstream and certainly the most pop oriented song of the set. "One Seventeen" is a brief but cool groove and ambience track. And "Police Cars" and "Part II" are the most overtly groove laden tracks on the CD and the ones that go from being dancey to actually danceable, though there lots of fun freakiness that keeps the music interesting throughout. Lots of interesting variety here and Twelve do an excellent job of finding the right mixture of accessible and experimental elements.
For more information you can visit the Twelve web site at: http://www.atomoflife.co.uk.
First Album is distributed by Silber Records. You can visit their web site at: http://www.silbermedia.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Silber Records; PO Box 18062; Raleigh, NC 27619.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz