Our ‘Track By Track’ guide sheds light on the stories behind some of our favourite artists’ music.
Bandleader and saxophonist Ronan Perrett is an immensely talented musician who channels interesting stories through his music, creating the most absorbing pieces of work. Press play on Twospeak’s new full-length ‘Fictions’ and you’ll instantly hear what I’m talking about. Each song of ‘Fictions’ is based on a piece of non-musical art, which includes paintings, sculpture, literature and film. Each track is named after and aims to capture the character and mood of its original inspiration. Ronan says of the artworks used in this process:
“the artworks I used to make this album are connected for me with a quality which evokes an imagistic response I associate with this language of art, dreams and meaningful stories”.
This third album from Twospeak is packed with bold ideas and irresistible grooves and riffs that will have you hooked from start to finish. If you dig a combo of The Bad Plus, that groovy 70’s Canterbury scene with Soft Machine and Caravan vibes, some Hot Rats-era Zappa goodness, and a dash of indie rock à la Deerhoof, then this album is totally up your alley!
On the album are Ronan Perrett (saxophone), Mike De Souza (guitar,) Joseph Costi (keys, synths), Ben Brown (drums) and Alex Killpartrick (space echo).
Fictions is out today, and you can stream it in full at the bottom of the page. Before that, however, peep Ronan’s exclusive, track-by-track guide. Read on, have a listen, and enjoy!
Keep The Aspidistra Flying
Built around an off-kilter groove and circling riff, the song builds and disintegrates in and out, building each time as a different member of the group stretches out. De Souza’s distorted guitar wash and Costi’s keys add an eerie atmosphere on top of the tight rhythms provided by Ben Brown. This first single draws inspiration from George Orwell’s 1936 novel of the same name. Ronan says of the novel, “I related to the main character’s struggle with finding a balance between compromising on his artistic integrity, in this case as a writer, and on the resulting consequences his decisions brought to his life.”
The Tower Of Blue Horses
The song bottles the dark intensity of the giant six-foot-seven painting of the same name, created by Franz Marc in 1913. Melodies, themes and rhythms are presented over smaller and smaller lengths of time until they become stacked on top of themselves throughout the track, mirroring the tower of horses in the artwork.
Fictions is named after a collection of short stories by the Argentine writer Borges. One of the stories is set in an infinite library full of books containing every possible combination of letters, punctuation and spaces. People are living lost inside, looking for books which include the story of their own and their people’s lives, information they’re in desperate need of and indexes of the library itself so they can find what they’re looking for. Growing snippets of melody appear around De Souza’s textural guitar palette and Brown and Costi’s heavy groove before the band explores the track’s malleable sound world, eventually finding themselves back where they started.
For Henry Moore (Reclining Figure 1984)
This track is a charged, dissonant, energetic bomb of a tune. Brown’s flipped-out rhythm and De Souza’s razor sharp guitar drives the band rattling through changes and gear shifts as Perrett’s sax runs freely over the top. Imagine Lunch Money Life covering Trout Mask Replica, and you might be somewhere close. Ronan says of the inspiration behind the song “For Henry Moore is based on a captivating sculpture of a large golden reclining figure, coincidentally created in 1984. It immediately captured my imagination as I saw it rising up and striding off to cause chaos.”
An Astrologer’s Day
An Astrologer’s Day is R. K. Narayan’s short story of a shrewd old man living undercover in the fictional town of Malgudi. He claims he can tell people’s fortunes and is approached by a man who’s life story he guesses correctly, including that many years ago, he was once attacked and left for dead in a far-off town. After the man pays up and leaves, it turns out the Astrologer was the man’s attacker, on the run for years, believing he had committed murder. The song sits alongside the Astrologer and his thoughts as he waits for his next clients.
Inspired by Herzog’s dream-like documentary, which explores themes of catastrophe, uncertainty and redemption, a quest to help humanity, flying machines, diamond mining and awe-inspiring nature. The track starts with a tranquil melody, which expands into improvisations from Costi and Perrett, spinning out into an exploration of threads of the melody in a group setting.
Woods Near Oele
This song balances two musical cells, one rhythmic and one melodic, inspired by the Dutch artist Mondrian’s colourful painting from 1908. Each idea is shared, explored and developed before meeting in a wonky and joyful coda featuring incredible blistering guitar improv from De Souza.
Driven by a backwards sounding groove built from the mood, shapes, colours and composition of Kandinsky’s painting of the same name, this track captures a dark heaviness interspersed with lighter riffs from Costi and Perrett alongside another beautiful guitar improvisation masterclass from De Souza. The ideas follow themselves into a prog-style rock out before returning to an industrial and flipped out recapitulation of the original groove, untangling itself into a textural sound world version of the painting.