Twofish – At Least A Hundred Fingers

 Twofish – At Least A Hundred Fingers

Twofish – At Least A Hundred Fingers – Album Review

If you tuned into the most recent episode of the SBS Podcast, you had the supreme pleasure of checking out a cut called “Tilt/Shift” by this very band we’ve got here in review today – Twofish!  You would have heard a whole bunch of my random thoughts & first impressions of what I was finding in listening to their new album At Least A Hundred Fingers as well – but there’s still so much more left for me to tell ya!  Which is only fair…believe when I say, if I had simply gone on & on about how many things I love about what’s happening in “Tilt/Shift” alone, we’d all still be listening to that show right now, or I might even still be recording it!  Just don’t get it twisted – I very well COULD have taken up the whole show just trying to scratch the surface of this kickass first cut on the new Twofish record…but at the end of the day, it’s always the music that’s going to speak stronger on its own behalf…I try to at least balance it out.  Joining Harry Richardson & Charlie Humble for track one – the core of Twofish at this point in the band’s career – is singer Francesca Genco, who provides such an exceptional layer of exquisite & graceful sound to “Tilt/Shift” through the immaculate vocals she brings to this first cut.  No doubt that this combination of talent certainly makes an instant & favorable initial experience with the music of Twofish – I jumped on “Tilt/Shift” immediately, and spun it right away on the SBS Podcast as I started my deeper dive into this record.  In particular, you’ll notice moments like around the 3:45 mark where the piano melody ends up getting more space on the surface…or moments like around thirty seconds when the music itself spreads out and each element in the mix seems to get even more bold, pronounced, and powerful.  Francesca puts in a stunning performance right at the top of At Least A Hundred Fingers and provides an instantly enticing vocal layer that’s as angelic & graceful as it is innovative, creative, and filled with true technique.  In a lot of ways, Twofish is heading on a path that I felt like Hanging From The Rafters were on at one point…stopping just short of being a track you’d confuse for something by Massive Attack; the similarities to both exist, but there’s also no question that this band seeks to do their own thing, clearly.  Hard-hitting EDM with real imagination and artistic integrity?  You had me at hello Twofish, nice work.

Don’t be surprised when you hear “Asha” show up on the ol’ SBS Podcast one day in the future too…I’ve got a whole lot of love for this song, yessir.  The digital details and crystal clarity in this cut leads directly to straight-up sonically sensational results – it’s just music you won’t be able to take your ears off of, you know, same ol’ same ol’ – just another day in the life of making music in Twofish.  Are you KIDDING ME?  “Asha” is the exact kind of track that does NOT come along every day…mind you, the same could very well be said of such an album & this entire lineup of tunes as well when it comes right down to it – but c’mon y’all…this second cut is as interesting & engaging as any kind of audible entertainment you’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing, is it not?  Let’s be real here – Twofish is a two-man unit that is built of pure audiophiles.  How do I know that?  Have you listened?  You couldn’t possibly come to any other conclusion when you listen to how exquisite the sound, mix, ideas, and production of this record has all come out.  Credit to Grammy-award winning Emily Lazar of The Lodge in New York who mastered both At Least A Hundred Fingers, in addition to her work at the very start on Twofish’s debut album Zero Crossing from back in 2014.  From the roots of their imaginative ideas and the work they personally put in, to the final sparkle & shine that Emily has added to the final product – I mean…you just wanna strap your headphones on or lean your whole FACE right into your speakers as you listen to this record, no joke.  There’s an instantaneous display of mysterious sound & subtle, pulsing, live-wire electricity that seems to hang in the air as the tension & intensity of “Asha” picks up, and the spectacular mix of sound takes you even further down the rabbit-hole, willingly as you’ve ever been.  From the clever use of harmonic sound, to the depth in the low end, to the absolutely KILLER vibes they create by adding in the layer of guitar to “Asha” along the way, and the brilliantly scrambled frequencies in the background – this cut audibly has it ALL…and that’s long before we’ve even mentioned the extraordinary percussion you’ll find threaded into this tune or the cleverness in the bass-line melodies that eventually pop up too.  There are a whole lot of great tracks on this record – that’s about the easiest thing I’ve confirmed for ya all year long on these pages of ours – but for myself personally, “Asha” might very well be my favorite of the entire bunch…I know I could certainly make a strong argument on its behalf – the attention to detail alone on this second cut is award-worthy to the nth degree…the rampant textures, tones, and frequencies that surge through “Asha” stack up to a giant win for Twofish, an outright innovative song, and a genuinely immersive & inventive experience from start to finish on At Least A Hundred Fingers.

I wanted to absorb every morsel of sound this album pumped in my direction…the skill-level in Twofish is as outstanding as they come.  It’s been nearly seven full years since their last album – I can only imagine how good it’s gotta feel to get this new music out there for them – listening to the passion within a digital track…or rather, being so able to NOTICE that passion within a digitalized structure…is so tremendously rare, I cannot even begin to express it – but tell me that’s not EXACTLY what you hear on “Gateway” from start to finish!  You can absolutely hear how into it these two dudes are based on the energy and level of detail within the results you hear from the lefts to the rights throughout “Gateway,” and once again, this is also certainly true of the record at-large.  The tiny break around the two-minute mark is one of the more deadly moments in music that you’ll hear this year created by the absence of sound & the use of space…every ingredient left behind for the rebuilding of “Gateway” creeps & crawls along at a mesmerizing pace in all the right ways.  A minute or so later on down the road, you’ll find a stellar switch in the direction of the beat & melody, giving “Gateway” a fully refreshed second-life to the middle of this track that’s certain to capture the interest just as much as its beginning and ending will.  I mean, let’s be real…those final twists in the atmosphere on “Gateway” that start up after the noticeable departure mid-tune, become an Electro-based slow-burn so spectacular, Trent Reznor himself would have been proud to have written it.  A perfect display of fire & ice…the moves on the surface are hot, the details within the background are even hotter…and the whole cut surges with a tangible coldness to the vibe that’s filled with a mechanical precision well-beyond what two humans SHOULD be capable of!  But that’s just the thing folks…that’s what makes our friends Charlie & Harry so much fun and so interesting to listen to…these ain’t your typical musicians y’all – and they dare to do things differently.  If you hear something on this album that doesn’t reveal the rewards in going that route, then turn yourself right-side up – because you’re listening to it wrong.  Songs like “Gateway” are so tremendously stockpiled with bold cinematic sound and cunning innovation that it’s just been a pure joy to listen to over here.  Don’t get me wrong – I still get the mysterious & murky vibes crawlin’ all over my skin and shivers up my spine that you’d get in listening to this track as well…but I’m marveling at the composition too, every time.  The work’s been put into every element you hear, and your ears are never left wanting.

Listen to the slick low-end grooves in “Straylight” will ya?  It’s just genius, and clearly another day at the office for Twofish – this is a monumentally addictive record for the innovative structures & imagination you’ll find in this set-list.  Like an infusion of Post-Punk vibes into the EDM realm, built with a cold & precise mechanical thread through the vocal samples added into the mix along the way, and big synth moments to finish off “Straylight” in style – Twofish have been pumping out a smorgasbord of sounds well worth your time to listen to, and somehow assembled them all into full-on amazing cuts from start to finish.  You regular readers know that I’ve got no time to waste here…doesn’t serve me, wouldn’t serve them either – if I had concerns, I’d share’em – but all I’m hearing is every reason to listen to Twofish and practically nothing more!  At the very least, I fail to hear anything I could advise them on to change…I can’t think of anything they could do to make a song like “Straylight” one ounce better than it already is – all I can do from here, is advise YOU to listen to these guys, because YOU owe YOURSELVES that honor.  Face it – it’s been a tough couple years; you need some amazing new music that will take you right outta your world and into some other sonic dimension entirely – and this record will DO that!  The most you’d find me conceding is that the shadowy vibe that engulfs “Straylight” is probably more challenging to the everyday listener out there to a degree or two…I could accept that…but again, if you’re looking for MORE outta your speakers, you’ll find that Twofish is fully willing to supply.  Personally, I think they still give most folks a plethora of reasons to keep listening through the cleverness you’ll find on display at any given moment from performance to production – but I’d still understand if the majority of people out there felt it might have been easier to find a way into the three cuts prior.  “Straylight” feels like a deeper dive into the beyond somehow…perhaps a bit more serious in its mood & subtly growing intensity maybe…or dramatic when factoring in the synth strings of the finale…it feels grippingly focused from start to finish, intent on creating a slick & professional groove that flexes with dark robotic poetry in the mix, courtesy of a vocal sample from guest-star Amy Gedgaudas.  Everything’s cohesive, everything fits…it’s simply a matter of a more involved design & powerfully evocative feeling to be discovered in listening…for people like myself, that’s aces – for others, it could be more of a battle.

Good gravyboat LIGHTHOUSE – “Floe” is a jaw-dropper!  You get a lot of the roots of their Kraftwerk influence shining through on this cut for sure…and considering how their own music was light years ahead of where music is today STILL – you bet, it fits right into this lineup of digitalized, futuristic fusion here, 100%.  You’ll have experienced comparable moments of genius through artists like Squarepusher, the almighty Aphex Twin…maybe even Venetian Snares at its most…hmmm…let’s say controlled & professional – at some point if you’re listening to the IDM music out there; that’s the kind of high-caliber company that a song like “Floe” has Twofish keeping.  Of course, looking down at the Aphex Twin tattoo that I have on my left arm, like I do each and every day because it’s freakin’ AWESOME…I mean…you get it – it would be extremely tough for me not to love the moves being made throughout a song like “Floe,” or how the album first began with the impressive & impeccable design of “Tilt/Shift,” or the insanely intricate elements that make a song like “Asha” spring to life through our speakers so vibrantly & vividly.  They’re not shy about letting a track build & take you on a journey, and “Floe” is as great as an example of that as you’ll find on At Least A Hundred Fingers, starting out in a nearly Pink Floyd-esque approach that incorporates ambience & nature vibes, mimicking a place out in the wild somewhere and ice-floes cracking & converging as you listen.  While it’s fair to say that this particular cut probably has the largest & lengthiest intro of the set with it taking about three plus-minutes to kick-in to its more energetic second-half…but please y’all…take a moment and listen to the mastery of sound on display throughout the beginning and give it all the proper respect it deserves will ya?  This is an authentic sonic odyssey – I found every ticking second of “Floe” fascinating personally…quite honestly, I could listen to the depths of the beginning of the song for hours and you’d never find me complaining – ever.  What I think a person like myself ends up loving even more, is how dramatic of a shift “Floe” eventually makes, yet how welcome it still is…we’re talking polar opposites, truly – mellow and atmospheric, versus the energetic & rambunctious, unapologetically digitalized grooves to follow afterwards.  It makes for quite the contrast within one song, but yet somehow, Twofish makes the sheer versatility in this experience undeniably cohesive…we welcome that second-half every bit as much as the first, for totally different reasons, you feel me?  Lively, beautiful, cinematic, and practically real to the touch – “Floe” is a genuine stunner on At Least A Hundred Fingers that confidently crosses a chasm of depth to thrill & engage you.

Twofish have clearly put in the work – and that’s massively paid off throughout this whole record – they played this very, very smart…it’s been seven years away – there’s no rush to the comeback at that point; so when they started putting this experience together, the pressure’s off in many ways, allowing good ol’ Charlie & Harry to really dig into the best of the music they’ve been making.  “Eidolon” would likely fall a bit more towards a niche side of the audience…perhaps…it’s harder to say here.  I think the first four minutes probably leans more towards the exploratory & artistic sound than most listeners out there are typically ready to engage with…but man-oh-man would I feel sorry for anyone out there that didn’t feel like they could stick with “Eidolon” to the end, because this cut’s got a seriously wild finale to it.  Chances are, from the arrival of the beat around the two-minute mark on-forward, most folks will be on solid ground and ready for the adventure to follow – Twofish dole it all out slowly, but methodically in a way you’ll appreciate…like a great story revealing itself through sound.  Being entirely real with ya, if you’ve made it to track six of seven on this record, I’m not remotely worried about ya taking in the first four plus-minutes of “Eidolon” as it builds…you’ll be there for it every bit as much as I have been every time I’ve listened…but I’d be lying by omission myself if I didn’t say it’s that final switch around the 4:40 mark that brings this track to that next-level we were all waiting for it to find.  Then…soon afterwards, by say about…oh around the 5:27 mark (approximately)…you’ll find the gnarliest sound you’ve heard in any song this year…and right around the corner from there, a stellar melody to wrap it all up before it’s done.  “Eidolon” kind of redeems itself by its final third in a way…it really just depends on how you listen to music and what you’re listening for – I don’t think there’s an audiophile out there in this world that wouldn’t appreciate the subtleties that exist in the sound spread out through the first four & a half-minutes, but when it comes to fully universal vibes, Twofish finds those as well before it’s all finished up.

Seven years between records…seven tracks in total…coincidence?  Doubtful!  When you consider the fact that Twofish has left no stone unturned throughout the attention to detail in any of these songs on their second record, you have to assume they’ve thought everything through from start to finish.  “Buchla Space” ends the album on adventurous & ambitious notes through their signature exploratory style – adding in some spellbinding cultural sound for you to experience through the guest-appearance of Susanne Stanzeleit playing that incredible violin you hear in this last track.  I’m a known lover of violin, I’m a known lover of EDM – and I’ve loved the combination from its indie roots in artists like Kytami, to the ol’ mainsteam in someone like the legendary Lindsey Sterling…I mean, you really can’t lose when those two aspects of music join forces, in my opinion.  From the twisted frequencies underneath the surface, to the sensational vibes we hear most prevalently like the bold switches around the 2:15 mark, to the hypnotic qualities supplied by Susanne every time she pops up in this audible odyssey along the way – Twofish have found the ending their new album deserved without question.  From the innovative drums, to the relentlessly addictive electro-atmospheres that they create, “Buchla Space” provides one last deep dive into a unique realm of sound that Twofish should be seriously proud of – the world needs a LOT more of these guys – At Least A Hundred Fingers is full proof this band is as creative as they come.

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