Twink – “Critter Club” Review

Twink

Twink

Twink is everyone’s favourite toy piano musician surely? There’s very few other artists that simply give me pure unadulterated joy from their music. Back for another release in 2014, “Critter Club” has possibly the most cute song names ever in humanity – they are ASCII style faces instead of words. As such, they are a pain to type but the music itself is some of the happiest and joyful I’ve heard.

After the opening track gives you a single strum of a toy piano we’re into “≈(• ^ (±) ^ •)≈”  which is a cute woodland music box style track and this introduces you to the theme of the album. Following three woodland creatures, Twink is taking you on a narrative that follows their trials and tribulations and I’d like to think the faces of the titles then represent the face they are pulling when the track was made. It’s slick, fun, funny and entertaining. However behind the obvious there is a complex melody and rhythm running behind the music box which turns into a toy piano and brass arrangement for “L(≈ 0 w 0 ≈)¬” which has cute bird song and plenty of other instruments to accompany the jaunty toy piano. “={^ Ø x Ø ^}=” as the eyes on the face suggests has a bit of a start/stop startled rhythm going on with it. There’s also a French feel to the synths and accompaniments as the toy piano fits and starts in a cute tension building track. “(:· º πππ º ·:)” reminds me of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles with its heavily tuned percussive rumbles and march onwards as the toy piano delicately dances around the marimbas and ancient sounding string synths – a personal highlight.

By the time you’ve reached “( Ó_Ó )))))…” you’ll have realised that there is both style and substance in Twink’s arrangements as this track packs a punch with its drums and bass line. It reminds me of Hanjuku Hero in some ways only less…Japanese! “{^ Q (Y) Q ^}” returns to the beautiful sounding music box for melodic kiddy trance track. It really shows the diversity of the album itself and the way how one instrument that barely gets any love can be used in so many different ways as the brass towards the end shifts the tone again. “\{ ·* U *· }/” keeps the brass but switches the tempo to a shuffle pop track that could easily be the backing to a toddler day care show from the 90’s. It’s retro cool and hearing the toy piano on a lower register gives the instrument a lovely tone you don’t hear often. “»–{ +__+ }—›” is the token abstract track on the album with lots of reverb and reversing of sounds to create a disorientating sway to and from two chords. It does slowly pick up – almost like the tracks trying to restart itself – and this down time is really welcome in the album.

“*(·.Ö (T) Ö.·)*” returns to the albums more usual instrument set in a disorientating waltz that doesn’t sit still on its chord patterns. It’s like the waltz is slowly going off kilter and you can’t control it and some of the high pitched toy piano notes sound like warning bells which is quite clever. “\_{ > n < }_/” sounds like Twink wants to get into game boss level music! The grizzly but thin bass line is strong and reminds me of old 80’s style boss dungeons as cycle bells become the order of the day overlaying cute organ sounds. It’s a darker sound than most of the album but it suits Twink well as it constantly switches itself around in the middle third of the track before returning for a strong finale. It leads nicely to the ultra cute “<(= U v U =)>” which places lots of emphasis on high pitched tuned percussion to interplay with the toy piano. It reminds me the first days in music classrooms as you discover new sounds.

That’s part of Twinks charm. There’s an innocence and playfulness behind each work he does. “Crtter Club” is one of, if not the, most assured and rounded release of his to date. The toy piano is underloved but as long as Twink is finding new and inventive ways to work it into a narrative or a situation, I’ll be there dancing to the pied piper behind, You cannot fail to smile listening to this stuff and that’s gold dust.

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Categories: alternative, composer, electronica, indie, music, review, Toytronica

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