¥788 twenty knives. the royal we. cd. april2k11.
|eyeball shoes / petting zoo||*.mp3|
|the royal hall||*.mp3|
|the royal we||*.mp3|
cover illustration by justin bergstrom
you have received a royal invitation: leaving your spaceship you are stranded on a strange, colourful island. a tiny robot takes you by the hand and is your host for the next 45 minutes (you will even have the chance to speak to him!). everything is a bit odd here, but who could resist the urge to explore this foreign kingdom? ‘the royal we’ by twenty knives is the perfect soundtrack for our trip. it will stimulate your imagination with sounds mixed together from electronica, idm and dubstep, sometimes with traditional influences or orchestrated by string quartet. all this pleases our ears and is the result of a curious and talented artist from the noble lands of nyc: the man behind twenty knives serves us 13 songs full of self-made instruments and effects. together with him singing instead of common sampling, the whole album bears an irresistible personal spirit.
all of the compositions consist of powerful harmonics, being carried over the edge, overdriven, and still sophisticated in a way only electronic emperors know to do. we feel reminded of 1990s computer games, a very alien version of alice in wonderland and a crazy mechanical hatter. and while you struggle to understand what your ears are encountering, you realize your feet have already started tapping to the rhythms. not only for lovers of the experience of mind-expanding drugs, this release makes you the protagonist in your own fairytale.
the ‘royal vomitorium’ from the miwak twelve compilation (hymen records ¥777) has been a hors d’oeuvre of what will finally expand here to a full-blown psychedelic trip. and yet, we are already looking forward to what will be chapter two after this aristocratic prelude. twenty knives is the electronic glamrock of the century, absorbing the madness of aphex twin on lsd with ziggy stardust singing the royal theme of a velvet goldmine.
wer freut sich nicht über eine einladung? vor allem, wenn diese noch eine königliche ist? das problem ist nur: wenn dieser auf einem fremden planeten wohnt und man mit seinem raumschiff irgendwo auf einer seltsam anmutenden insel landet und nicht weiß, wie man jetzt zum palast kommen soll. wie praktisch, wenn man dann an die hand genommen wird – und zwar von einem kleinen roboter mit einer leicht schiefen stimme. dieser bringt einen dann durch den königlichen streichelzoo, die königliche straße entlang und schließlich in den königssaal, untermalt von höchst bizarren klängen, die in der phantasie des hörers diese welt auferstehen lassen und irgendwie auch wie harmonien zu klingen scheinen. das klingt dann in etwa so wie eine alice im wunderland-version im industriedesign inklusive aliens, die einen gastauftritt haben. und als roboter könnte man sich einen wal:e-verschnitt vorstellen und alles in knallbunten farben. so prallen idm-beats auf extrem verzerrte chöre und auf elektronische klänge, wie sie vor jahren in videospielen hätten auftauchen können, zwischendrin hört man auf einmal orchester oder auch mal den kleinen roboter reden. es wird behauptet, dass man schon längst am mittanzen ist, bevor das eigene gehirn überhaupt realisiert hat, was da eigentlich auf einen losgelassen wird. das wird sich tatsächlich nicht vermeiden lassen, wenn man das album hört. ob man wirklich in der lage sein wird, dieses album irgendwann komplett zu versehen, ist dagegen nochmal eine ganz andere frage. (tristan osterfeld)
a review in russian language can be found on the machinist's webpage:
it doesn’t happen often, but every now and then something comes along that makes me reclassify my world perspective. this could be something as arbitrary as the first time you see snow (and consequently are forced to grudgingly accept that it isn’t a conspiracy tourism boards cooked up to make boring countries seem interesting), or the first time you eat fresh avocado (and admit that it doesn’t, for all its squishiness, taste like bugs). or it could be listening to twenty knives and realising that music really is not something that can be labelled, classified and sorted, that occasionally it exhibits massive, inexplicable aberrations, just like any other living, a changing organic entity. “the royal we” is twenty knives’ second intrusion into the sanity of collective consciousness (the first, “the royal invitation” is available as a free download from their website) and their first full-length lp. and that’s where accepted, standardised descriptions and definitions start to fail me. “the royal we” can’t be analysed in terms of song structure or melody or harmony. it can’t be identified as sharing common percussive characteristics with other branches of electronic music. it’s not even worth describing their sound as ‘experimental’, because an experiment generally has an identifiable, valid outcome, and leftfield craziness that distorts perceptions isn’t what i would call a valid outcome. but if you can survive that, you’re in for a treat: twenty knives delivers something severely lacking in electronic music today: humour. yes, it’s the kind of humour that’s likely to get you punched by someone of far lesser intelligence, but it is humour nevertheless. you can’t help but smirk at the concept of an album built around digitised commentary from what appears to be a tourguide robotic entity. you can giggle nervously at the sense of paranoia induced on tracks like “the royal computorium”, where the listener feels part of the music in the form of yes/no button sound responses to this robot’s slightly inappropriate questioning. and you have to laugh out loud at the incongruity of track names like “eyeball shoes, petting zoo”. technically, “the royal we” flays the skin off dubstep and nails it to a brick through the window of idm. then it goes and has a drink in the local pub with psychedelia. twenty knives is like nothing you’ve heard before, and exists in that gray area of things you wish you never had heard and things you can’t help listening to repeatedly. if albums went viral, “the royal we” would swiftly become the aural equivalent of “two girls, one cup”. i can’t say i like it (for fear of being institutionalised), but i also can’t say it’s not good. listen at your peril, but it may just change your life. (david van der merwe)
we’re not sure how this one slipped under the radar. perhaps intentionally meant to catch you off-guard, steven mcdonald (aka twenty knives) serves the royal we—a virtual smorgasbord of electronics that flickers uncomfortably between raoul sinier, early v/vm, the mitgang audio and global goon. a cross-bred frenzy of disjointed vocals, both smothered in distress and subtlety, twenty knives is not at all concerned with any one particular genre. fleshing out classical soundtracks that even kattoo might consider in his playlists—digitized pops, sizzles and whirs flash around vintage computer conversations as poetically dislocated rhythms drip down your spine. like being transported through the ages, time shifts with an absence of place on this full length for hymen. ethereal ambiences and silky lyrics are knitted with ease and finesse just as electrons ricochet off of polished analog music boxes. though plenty of bits and bytes tend to wither away in a maze of obtuse audio contours, the royal we plants several seeds of left-field explorations that may alienate listeners upon first rotation. all in good fun—or so we think—twenty knives escapes reality by not taking himself too seriously and inadvertently tangles his productions in the process. an annihilating delirium of sound and vision, the royal we shatters preconceived notions of experimentation—with vocal contortions aplenty—and simply vanishes into a surreal dreamworld.
the royal we. cd. hymen records ¥788. 2011 royal invitation. mp3 ep. self released. 2008
royal invitation - free download:
twenty knives webpage: