Sunday, August 06, 2006

second instalment of the week-long tribute to Tony Ogden, late great frontman of World of Twist: a live review from Melody Maker, April 6 1991.

WORLD OF TWIST
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.

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