Review Summary: Pill popper or not, here’s one to fuck with your mind.“…there are doors that they're afraid to go in and they don't want us to go in there either, because if we go in, we might learn something that they don't know. And that makes us a little out of their control."
It’s hard to imagine now just what Twisted
really meant to an entire enclave of music lovers, born under the light of the full moon beach parties of Goa, India and given life in the dark, laser lit club rooms of London’s underground. The man behind it all, Simon Posford would of course go on to pioneer ambient trance with the release of Shpongle’s Are You Sphongled?
And Younger Brother’s A Flock Of Bleeps
– but it was here, in the dark, caressing sounds of Twisted
that the face of psytrace would be changed forever, a light set so brightly that it would burn itself out so thoroughly in the years to follow. In a way, Twisted
almost killed the very scene it set to spawn, as its breathtaking atmospheric scope spanned further than most other acts could even conceive. For a genre so riddled with rubbish, it’s probably no wonder that Twisted stands among trance’s most magnificent releases.
Of course at this point you can almost feel the slight nervousness of a to-be-listener – yes
, the act is called Hallucinogen. Yes
, the cover is a psychedelic mess of colours. And yes
, the opening tack is named after the mother of all psychedelic drugs. And yet, to write off the genre’s highest selling album as simply another shallow, drug-addled rave fest would be to miss out on some of the most tightly produced and immaculately conceived electronic outings ever set to disc. That said, the opener itself is nothing if not a perpetual high – warbling in with a set of eerie set of crystalline swirls of noise and a vocal sample from drug aficionado Ken Kesey (Author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest), “L.S.D.” broods and bubbles it’s way into psytrance’s defining moment, as it’s pulsing bass and dark, swirling synths wobble their way forward in a divinely inspired stupor, hazy with it’s own daze laced sounds, but scripted with a mechanical grace unmatched within the genre.
But like any album geared towards dance, there's energy here to make a nuclear attack look pretty almost - half built melodies saunter in and out with hurried pace, with each musical idea staying only just enough to wet the appetite – the result being an album perpetually on the edge of revelation, teasing with mindbending ecstasy. They evolve here, creature-like, slowly and organically, and it’s almost possible to visualize the way in which one by one they allow themselves to be stripped back and layered on, like coats of thin varnish painted across the mix with sublime skill. While it’s tempting to try and take apart the ways in which the different strands of music coil and slide themselves in and out of each song, Twisted
’s true success lies in the way Posford has probably spent long, tedious hours meticulously crafting each and every of those sounds, with every stuttering squelch and swirling synthline falling effortlessly into in place like some preordained masterplan of sound.
It’s psytrance in all it’s blazing glory, with tunes working their way into the subconscious, like headworms with a slow but inevitable goal of simply devouring the mind whole. While Hallucinogen’s formula for music isn’t a complex one, it’s pulled off with such stunning precision that it’s impossible not to be spellbound by Posford’s craftsmanship. Perhaps it’s in the menacing lyric sample which underscores “Shamanix” that captures the essence of Twisted
, with an unknown man shouting though the sharp sounds: ‘The way I feel I don’t expect to expect to go to sleep for a year… I’m on f'ucking fire!’.
It’s here, in this dark absurdity, caressing and embracing with it’s mystical that Twisted
defies any ear to turn itself away. By the time tacks like the energy crammed “Grand Magus” and the rave party of “Fluoro Neuro Sponge” reach their subtle climaxes, their bodies are so thoroughly entrenched in their perpetual, pulsing headspace, it’s almost impossible to be but simply caught unaware by the moment, with time only to stand back and watch the waste of their electronic trails before being carried forward by Twisted
’s ever enveloping sounds.
So in the end, Twisted
lives up to it’s namesake as melodies throw themselves forward in a twining helix of sounds, feeding and kicking off each other in an infinitely refined aural saturation. And as with any criticism of the electronic scene, it’s true that these songs aren’t earthy or emotional - but that the harsh sounds of Twisted
’s electronic landscape, so pristinely and elegantly put together still shines today as brightly as it did nearly a decade ago is only testament to it’s artistic depth. Pill popper or not, here’s one to f'uck with your mind.