The Wizards of Twiddly
Fracture for Pleasure
Dexterously played, lyrically inventive, frequently bonkers
LP from Liverpool based neo-prog rockers
With the band name a deliberate nod towards 1970s rock, The Wizards of
Twiddly occupy the pre-punk period of the decade when King Crimson, Peter
Gabriel era Genesis and Jethro Tull were the doyens of what used to be
called ‘underground’ rock.
Recorded over two years, featuring two-fifths of the wondrous Emily &
The Faves, Andy’s Delamere and Frizell, in their line up, the complexity
of the band’s arrangements doesn’t obscure their way with
The pastoral whimsy of early 1970s prog is replicated here, the band’s
material couldn’t be from anywhere else but England. Simon James
and Andy Frizell’s vocals shore up a treasured influence, Peter
Gabriel-era Genesis. A band largely ignored in the present day, albums
such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway combined musical adventure, avant
garde song structures and vitally, tunes to frequently excellent effect.
Opening with the title track, a curtain-raising instrumental, the first
of several on the LP, ‘Just Above Your Thing’ following next
with different production could pass for full on metal, its bludgeoning
riff offset by vaguely discordant horns
‘Sounds of Success’ evokes the mellower moments of Dark Side-era
Floyd, eschewing the twisting melody lines found elsewhere. Elsewhere,
‘Cardboard Banjo’ demonstrates the band’s ability to
flit between various genres, veering away from its central riff into parping
The jarring melodies of ‘Big, Bigger, Bigot’ recalls early
King Crimson, a band who sailed closer to the cutting edge than many of
their contemporaries. ‘Anti-Tank Tank’ and ‘Bless This
Tank’ meanwhile secure the accolade of being almost certainly the
only occasion when two songs with the word ‘tank’ in the title
have featured on the same LP.
Switching styles, the politically charged ‘Hooverman’ based
around a loping riff sung by guest vocalist Jimmy Carl Black starts out
as a Ian Dury-esque polemic before segueing into what could be a Blaxploitation
soundtrack. Additional points for use of the word ‘procrastinator’
in popular song as well.
‘Interlude’ recalls R.E.M.s habit of including an instrumental
mid way through their eighties albums, while vocal-free skronking-horn
led piece Anti-Tank Tank’, evokes images of a drunken rampage on
‘Ping Pong Head’ (Chorus: ‘I’ve got a ping pong
head/I’ve got a ping pong head’ ad infinitum) while lyrically
impenetrable, dimly suggests early Black Sabbath backed with by Martin
Smith’s sleazy horn section.
Concluding with the vaguely unsettling ‘Burned Alive’, the
album finishes on a restful note, save for a short reprise as a hidden
Featuring blazing axe histrionics from Carl Bowery, the fluid playing
of the five piece plus assorted guests reinforces the stereotype that
prog bands had the greatest technical mastery of the rock genre.
Where many prog bands are burdened with the po-faced need to take their
art very seriously, the present group have a playfulness that lifts them
above this. Lyrics such as ‘Fame and fortune/flatulence pays/So
applauded/Blow you away/Beautiful hot anthems to share’, suggests
their music isn’t delivered with life or death intensity.
One of the most waywardly entertaining, intriguing albums to have come
out of Liverpool this year.
Buy online at Burning Shed: