First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2007, Volume 14, #8
Written by John Metzger
Tue August 21, 2007, 05:00 AM CDT
In July 1999, Mark Sandman collapsed and died on stage after suffering a heart attack. Not surprisingly, his untimely demise brought Morphine to an equally abrupt ending. Yet, new life sprang from Sandman’s death. Rallying the troops to pay tribute to their departed friend, saxophonist Dana Colley and drummer Billy Conway assembled Orchestra Morphine, a nine-piece collective that included vocalist Laurie Sargent. In the wake of the ensemble’s extensive touring schedule, the trio of Colley, Conway, and Sargent retreated to a recording studio to begin working on what initially was meant to be an extension of Sargent’s solo career. It was here that Twinemen was born.
Over the course of two studio discs — its self-titled debut and Sideshow — Twinemen has allowed its development to occur organically. Wisely, it hasn’t forced anything into place, though, by contrast, it also seemed to be searching for something that frustratingly remained just out of reach. Bit by bit, Twinemen has inched its way forward, but its music, nonetheless, often has felt tentative. With the release of Twinetime, however, the ensemble has taken a huge step forward. Throughout the album, the group achieves levels of consistency and confidence that heretofore were not seen within its work, and unlike its previous endeavors, the eight songs on Twinetime flow together until they become one.
Much like Morphine’s material, there’s a sinister edge that lies within Twinemen’s songs. Aside from the group’s shadowy lyrics, the ominous, distorted blues that forms the core of The End of My Dreams as well as the eerie discordance that creeps through Eddie Edison, for example, draw unmistakable correlations to Colley and Conway’s former outfit. There are plenty of other places on the effort, as well, where the two bands are connected. Considering Twinemen’s history, how could there not be?
Instead of simply waltzing through the past, however, Twinemen has used its history to sculpt, through a process of trial and error, its own distinctive identity. Though the murky textures remain, the jagged edges of Morphine’s material have been smoothed considerably. While Twinemen’s songs still wade through darkened waters, their seductively soulful exterior — which is formed by the combination of Colley’s warm saxophone intonations and Sargent’s evocative vocals — serves as a siren song that masks the danger that lurks beneath the surface. As its posthumously released fifth album The Night seemed to indicate, Morphine was in the process of redefining itself. Twinetime successfully carries forth Sandman’s vision in ways he probably hadn’t anticipated. Regardless, he’d be quite pleased.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box