Friday, June 6, 2014

SIDE PROJECTS: The Twilight Singers

Purchase The Twilight Singers catalog here

Action on the side is always a little darker. Whether it's an illicit gambit, a secret habit or a mistress, it's bound to be a little sexier and a little more willing to indulge your deepest desires. As it goes in life, so it goes in music. 

The Twilight Singers were born out of strife. 

Locked in battle with Elektra Records, Afghan Whigs lead singer Greg Dulli started recording demos with friends - a dark, tense and moody collection of music which was leaked on the internet. 

A reworked version of these leaked demos was released in 2000 by Columbia Records as Twilight As Sung by The Twilight Singers. 

Dulli describes The Afghan Whigs as, "a cross between The Band, The Temptations and Neil Young playing with Crazy Horse," and in the Twilight Singers, he gets to further explore his love of soul and R&B while keeping his pulse close to his hard rock roots. 

This R&B influence is heavily present in the first Twilight Singers song I ever heard. 

The crystalline tinkle that opens Teenage Wristband cut through the stagnant Central Florida summer air and for a moment, I forgot how to breathe. 

Is it in through the nose or in through the mouth? 

My priorities shifted - breathing didn't matter so much as figuring out what this sound was coming through my speakers. 

That sound was Greg Dulli at his darkest and most lubricious. 

Teenage Wristband opens with clean, crisp pianos, a low persistent drone and Dulli issuing a low and throaty challenge: 
You say you wanna go there
Ride then
I did and I loved it
Considering Dulli's cocaine addiction, these stark allusions to drug use shouldn’t come as a surprise and the chorus only serves to further illustrate a junkie’s delirium: 
You wanna go for a ride?
I got sixteen hours to burn
And I’m gonna stay up all night 
The shivery ache in Dulli's voice coupled with his lascivious, almost pornographic delivery of the lyrics make a sixteen hour ride with an addict seem like a tantalizing offer. 

Further tantalizing the listener is the background vocals. Sweet oooh-honey-baby cooing that sound familiar for a good reason. This siren song is sung by no other than Apollonia. Yes, that Apollonia - the same sultry dark-eyed muse who drove Prince crazy. 

A low, droning hum pulses through the song, smoldering and heightening in intensity, tighter and tighter, until about 2:37 into the song when the fever breaks and the music washes over you like the waters of the River Jordan. 

Scattershot with starlight and soaked in well-aged bourbon, the music of The Twilight Singers is a dark fairytale woven through well-worn, nickel-plated strings. All black velvet soft darkness rattled by a wall of noise – whispers turn to howls, murky basslines bubble out of steaming Louisiana swamps and snarling guitars hiss and strike like baited cobras. 

Though he is known best for his work with the Afghan Whigs, Dulli's side project remains closer to his pulse. The Twilight Singers are the heart of darkness beating inside Greg Dulli - dark as blood, lush, lyrical and fucked up in the most beautiful way.

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