It’s fairly common for both fans and industry types to label emerging artists as being one of the most unique bands from their local area. It’s often a hyperbolic platitude reserved for newcomers refusing to comply with a local scene’s rigid social norms, a label that’s become so overused it’s become to lose all meaning. However, once in a blue moon an artist will emerge that’s so utterly idiosyncratic, bizarre and just generally ‘out there’ that it’s impossible not to describe them as being completely unparalleled in their local field. One such artist are the self-stated ‘jazz trio for the deaf’ group Twisted Ankle.
Combining noise rock, post-punk, strange dissonant jazz and warped social cometary before microwaving it to unrecognizable levels, the group have become live favourites within the South West due to their invasively theatrical live presence, sharing stages with the likes of JOHN, Mclusky*, The St Pierre Snake Invasion, CLT DRP and many others specialising in total sensory battery. With that in mind, the time has come for the band to increase their reach and enthral more, something their unendurably set to achieve with their self-titled debut.
A Captain Beefheart-esque zeitgeist of hellish late stage capitalism, this record plays out like an intoxicating trip into the warped minds of three musicians driven mad through the nonsensical nature of sentience. Sometimes taking on the form of barraging noise tinted post-hardcore and other times a deranged theatrical performance completed with comical spoken word, Twisted Ankle narrate societal vulgarities such as consumer culture, the housing crisis and individualism through a collective lens that has been cracked and warped through disillusion. There’s no subtlety to be found, just originality and macabre humour, a fact made immediately evident with the pitch black humour of opener ‘(All My Life I Wanted To Be A) Mortgage’. Introducing the record with surrealist humour, fevered jazz time signatures and freakish discordance, the track is a debauched interlude to a hypogonadic musical performance unlike anything else available on the street.
From here onwards, the record never relents nor offers escape from the fever dream it soundtracks. Despite offering a maniacal soundtrack to the impending collapse of the system, much like their enthralling live presence, this album is buoyant to a giddyish degree. ‘Warmed Through’ rampages through a post-punk bounce complete with a Cassels like nuance and lead single ‘Landlord Laughs’ condemns the ever spiralling housing crisis with acidic energy potent enough to power the South West for a weekend. There’s a great contrast at hand, a fantastic juxtaposition of humour, untameable energy and dystopian narratives.
However, as the record progresses it feels as if the macabre commentary begins to darken and calcify. It’s not surprising, especially given the record is born forth from the madness of a society now tearing off it’s own appendages and eating them to survive. But still, as a potent feeling of sinister bile bubbles up, the once maniacal jubilance turns holistic. The sardonic ‘Team Building’ mares shrill overpowered leads with murderous intent and the unpredictable distorted pacing of ‘Slamdoorshut’ sounds something akin to Frauds and Future Of The Left undergoing a lobotomy, complete with illegible proactive phrasing. In relation, ‘A Bag Of Pasta’ documents anxiety and spiralling mental health via the means of quickening jazz minimalism that becomes so overbearing and turbulent it ultimately triggers the nightmarish anxiety the track explores. It’s as horrid as it is fantastically atmospheric and genuine.
As the nauseating dizziness of ‘Grandma Bonedigger’ lingers in ones stomach following the total noise rock breakdown of closer ‘Shit-Eating Grin’ it’s probable many will be ransacking the cupboards for migraine relief whilst others eagerly hit replay. This record isn’t for everyone; even those accustomed to the irregularities of contemporary post-hardcore may be deterred by this record’s frank disregard for nonconformity. But if you desire a sonic portrait of society’s slow descent into infernal misery painted the via the means completely original noise expressionism, this is a must listen.
Twisted Ankle is released October 23rd via Breakfast Records.