Sunday, 6 October 2013

World Of Twist / Live Review by Simon Reynolds / Melody Maker 1991

Melody Maker - 6 April 1991

Astoria, London

World Of Twist are fascinated by yesteryear's quaint ideas of the futuristic: Tomorrow People typography, obsolete synthesisers and man-made fabrics, astro-lamps, fiber optic ornaments and other long-lost fads - all the drek that Victor Lewis-Smith's Buygones used to rake up. This kind of penchant usually leads to negligible whimsy of the Half Man Half Biscuit ilk. But World Of Twist have somehow evaded the belittling gaze normally associated with camp'n'kitsch, the odious trait of looking down on pop culture's preposterous excesses from a position of superiority. World Of Twist's music is of a different order of magnitude: it seems to look down on you.

Their songs are monumentally absurd, ziggurats of tinsel and tack. World Of Twist are sublime (original meaning: an experience so vast and unmanageable it inspires speechless, humbled awe) and ridiculous.

Let the bubblegum apocalypse unfurl... A bedlam of flanged bass, phased cymbals, dry ice and stroboscope mayhem, then it's straight into the single, "Sons Of The Stage". Those obscenely fartacious moogs spurt like spume from a whale's blowhole, then percolate in sensurround like a man-made sargasso sea. Tentacles of dralon, rayon and orlon enfold your limbs; the chorus "the floor's an ocean/And this wave is breaking/Your head is gone and your body's shaking/There's nothing you can do and there is no solution/Gotta get down to the noise and confusion" is Dionysian doggerel to ignite teenybop bacchanalia. The closing pseudo-orchestral coda is like a symphony for perspex instruments.

The folk responsible for this kitsch-adelic fantasia are a motley bunch: singer Tony Ogden looks like a malnourished Bryan Ferry, a cut-price fetishist in that hideously inorganic, black gloss shirt; wizened techno-wizzard Adge really does seem to come from some 1971 timewarp; guitarist Gordon King looks and plays like a fugitive from Loop; blowsy Julia Vesuvius is a bird and no mistake. But this is fine: they have the blemished and decidedly mortal look that pop groups had before the video age. And World Of Twist are not rock'n'roll, not soul, not even "dance" (although they partake of elements from all the above), but pop in the purest and most bygone sense of the word. Their domain should really be the discotheque, if such places still existed, rather than the nightclub or the rock venue. World Of Twist's "roots" are those phases when pop has been most rootless and inauthentic (glam, Northern Soul, Hawkwind), when subcultural styles have been co-opted and travestied by bubblegum mimicry. It's so right that they should cover "She's A Rainbow", from that period when The Stones shamelessly jilted authentic R&B to hitch a ride on flower power's coat tails. And their version of MC5's "Kick Out The Jams" reveals the counter culture anthem to be pretty much on the same level as The Sweet's "Teenage Rampage": a gloriously vacant blast of insurrectionary hot air.

"The Storm" is a neon kaleidoscope, a planetarium fallen into the hands of acid freaks. One mesmering miasmic mantra (possibly entitled "On The Scene") makes me momentarily imagine them as The Velcro Underground. "Life And Death" has the most epic, life-and-death bassline since "Keep Feeling Fascination" (the Human League are a righteous reference point for WoT); future schlock-waves of glutinous moog engulf us in plastic bliss. The kitsch-quake cometh, and it'll blow your eyes.

by Simon Reynolds

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