Slim Twig - A Hound At The Helm
Album Review

Slim Twig – A Hound At The Helm

This album is quite impossible to categorise. Indeed it is very difficult to describe, so let’s start with the basics. Slim Twig – a man not a band – is Toronto’s Max Turnbull, a musician and actor with a flair for the dramatic. As well as playing in several bands, Twig has released a couple of solo albums in Canada and originally self released A Hound At The Helm in 2010.

Now picked up by DFA Records, A Hound At The Helm is being re-released in advance of a new Slim Twig album next year. This one is a concept album based on Nabakov’s classic novel Lolita, so themes of lust, longing and taboo abound. Musically it is a curious mixture of psychedelic pop and almost classical instrumentation with occasional lo-fi dirge like moments and some brighter sections. There are touches of Bowie and Cave in the vocals, and a lot more besides.

The upbeat Clerical Collar sees Twig show his vocal versatility. Adopting different personas and two quite distinct singing voices he effectively sings a duet with himself. The fast paced track is very good and the unusual approach works well. Shroud By The Sheetful uses a harpsichord to good effect, giving a very atmospheres sound. And the six minute closing track Blonde Ascending (Come Into the Clatter) could be a movie score or performance piece with its baroque feel and vocals so deep that they belong in a horror film.

Overall this one is probably something of an acquired taste. Abstract doesn’t begin to describe the feel, it has gone way beyond that. In places the instruments seem to clash rather than work together, giving a discordant and chaotic effect. Yet in others bright melodies suddenly burst through. At times it is bold and dramatic, at others the psychedelic effects take over. But this offering from Slim Twig is certainly very different.

Venue: A Hound At The Helm
Support Band: DFA Records

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