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CD Review: Twelves – The Adding Machine

Twelves – The Adding Machine
(Babel BDV1088, CD Review by Chris Parker)

With the addition of electric guitarist Rob Updegraff, the former Twelves Trio have not only become Twelves, but have beefed up their sound, making it rockier and more hard-hitting in the process.

Bassist Riaan Vosloo explains that the original trio, touring on the back of their first album, kept finding themselves playing to rock-oriented audiences, so ‘learned to “put it out a bit”, and to experiment’, and The Adding Machine (the title comes from a 1923 expressionist play by Elmer Rice) encapsulates the musical results of this change, containing as it does a heady mix of Prime Time-like keening and Sco/Lo-type driving urgency.

With tenor player Mark Hanslip and drummer Tim Giles completing the line-up -– both experienced operators in the fertile hinterland between free jazz and more structured playing, the former primarily with Outhouse, the latter with the likes of Age of Steam and Fraud -– Twelves are well equipped to move, as they do, between dramatic, anthemic rock and tumbling freer music. On this album’s seven in-band originals and one arrangement of a traditional folk song (‘Shallow Brown’) they perfectly capture the spirit of Rice’s play, which also dramatises a shifting emotional world of dark revenge, unsettling fantasy and hope.

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