According to Twisted Tongue’s MySpace page they’re a collective from “The Motherspace”. Which gives a good indication of what to expect from this, their debut album, as there is certainly something a bit “from-another-planet” about this bunch. It also gives a clue towards the type of sounds you’re going to get. Sonically they owe a great deal to George Clinton and Parliament, who themselves spent some time in their own P Funk Mothership.
Sticking with their inclination towards concept, the group members have decided to take on their own pseudonyms. Among their ranks, we have TT And The Funky Mindbeam, Father Gargantuan Trooper and Angelina (RIP). Thus do they lend themselves to some sort of characterisation and plot development throughout the album. In fact, the band is the current project of Dave Jay and Mark Dalton, two old hands in the music industry, who have previously worked as, among other things, respectively a session musician and manager, and a co-producer and engineer.
It all sounds dreadful so far, doesn’t it? But while the reasoning behind all of this concept stuff is unclear, the real question is whether they’ve drowned themselves in it, or whether there’s something on offer that’s genuinely worth heeding, despite all this wackiness.
Putting reservations aside, the squelching bassline dominating first track You Want That Soul? gets the listener on board straight away. Super-infectious recent single Got A Really Good Thing carries on the seriously funky vibe in a different, Gnarls Barkley kind of direction as the driving groove gives the track an urgency that’s difficult to resist.
Mindbeam (Part 1) is a more straightforward piece of soul that finds itself sandwiched between a couple of instrumental interludes in (I Need A) Freak for Armageddon and Mindbeam (Part 2). Both are excellent trumpet-led pieces of jazz/soul fusion, the latter of which brings in a mild electronic backing.
The rest of the album sports vocals divided between a soulful male with a tendency towards falsetto, and a helium-friendly female vocalist. He’s generally impressive, with an ability to mimic a variety of other singers, from Lenny Kravitz to Prince. But she, while involved in but not dominant on the earlier tracks, tends to play a bigger part towards the later stages of the album. When she takes a bit more prominence on her signature song Killing Angelina, she’s frankly a bit of an irritant.
The second half of the album is weaker as the strong melodies are left out in favour of a deeper, heavier style. Oh Father! My Own Nunk Band! is particularly indicative of this and feels pointless, unfunny and without much merit. And the repeated references to nunk music throughout the album don’t explain what it actually is, if anything. However, the laidback grooves of Love In The City and Niagra Song, with its strings and falsetto vocals, end things off nicely and offer confidence in the band’s ability to write songs that can draw in listeners.
Released on the iconic Acid Jazz label in the year of their 21st anniversary, Twisted Tongue embrace the dancetastic grooves that embody everything that Acid Jazz has always stood for. Undoubtedly flawed, there’s still a huge amount on offer to be enjoyed. File under seriously funky and have fun with it.