Climax Golden Twins

Highly Bred and Sweetly Tempered

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Climax Golden Twins' fifth opus is nothing short of award-worthy (if awards still meant something, that is). Its languid melodies linger on between your ears long after the disc has stopped spinning, haunting your dreams in vague recollections, just like the voices salvaged from crackly 78-rpm records imbue the music with recollections of vague times. As mysterious as ever, the Climax Golden Twins delivered Highly Bred and Sweetly Tempered without an iota of information, except for a set of track titles (leaving out one track!). If the musicians might prove difficult to identify, the instrumentation is in plain view: acoustic guitars, piano, double bass, a lean drum set, some light electronics, lots of field recordings, and those old private 78-rpm records: family conversations, private music, documents for loved ones to remember you by. And to some extent, the CGT's music is so free of poise and so intimate that it seems to exist for the same reasons as those slabs of shellac, which does not mean that the music is unassuming or poorly recorded -- on the contrary. The Climax Golden Twins have a very precise grasp of their music, which has developed into a highly personal form of avant-gardist Americana-inspired post-folk. In some places, one thinks of the hurting sweetness of Low or the poignant arrangements of Christian Kiefer (especially in "Solid Gold Microphone," where the similarities in the songwriting get downright suspicious). Simple instrumentals like "Dead People," "Billy McGee McGaw," and "Awful Hungry" are subtly made larger than life with daring experiments (like a track of under-the-bridge guitar playing, backward sounds, soft noise, etc.). Nothing here is overdone, everything remaining respectful of the melodies and of the listening curve of the album. Clocking in at 38 minutes, Highly Bred and Sweetly Tempered feels too short after a first listen, but a couple more show how cleverly right this duration is. Highly recommended.

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