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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 228 - 04/04/15

Chris Brokaw
The Periscope Twins
12XU

'The first time I listened to side one of the test pressing of The Periscope Twins I was at my friend's house in Chicago. His wife came downstairs and said, "Are they doing work again next door?" I said, "No, we're listening to my new album". She paused, and utterly nonplussed said "Oh", and walked into the kitchen.' (Chris Brokaw, on The Periscope Twins)

Yes, Chris Brokaw (singer/songwriter, guitar player, drummer, film composer, rock and roller, abstract noisemaker) for sure stretches many musical limits this time around. He pushes boundaries. He crosses borders. He breaks and leaps into new musical terrain. And he climbs for some of the higher plains, and some unexplored peaks and mounts with his experimental, electronic music. However, mind you, with his guitar being the centrepiece of everything he creates. Every mood he creates, every musical move he makes. This is more of his 'singing songs', as Brokaw himself describes his compositions to be like. To quote writer Marc Masters (who's contributed to Pitchfork, The WireMagazine, The Washington Post and others): 'Chris Brokaw can stretch. In a sense his entire musical career has been about stretching - push, pulling, and reshaping the many forms he's taken on, both as a solo artist and as part of roughly 100 important rock bands. But he's rarely been given as much room to stretch as he grants himself on The Periscope Twins - an electronic noise-scape and the other an acoustic guitar mountain-climb.' Yes, Brokaw has for sure been around for years, appearing in numerous bands and/or collaboration projects (Come, Codeine, Consonant, The New Year, Pullman, Dirtmusic, Geoff Farina, Thurston Moore, Steve Wynn, Ryley Walker, Stephen O'Malley (of SunnO))) ), David Michael Curry (of the Willard Grant Conspiracy), Alex Hacke (of Einstürzende Neubauten), Evan Dando and his Lemonheads, and many, many more), as well as his extensive solo career. He's a friendly guy (as I remember my short chat with him after a gig in Washington DC years and years ago) - you'd better check our interview with Brokaw some two moons ago.

The Periscope Twins is a double album comprising two 40-plus minute solo pieces, which comes in two parts (for the vinyl album format, I guess), counting "The Periscope Kids Are Out On The Skids, My Love (Part 1)" and "The Periscope Kids Are Out On The Skids, My Love (Part 2)", plus "Skating Under Glass, Living Like A King" and "Do You Really Want To Know What That Means? Do You Really Want To Know What That Means?". 'One part for electronics, one for electric guitar; each one take, no overdubs', according to his label 12XU. Brokaw creates a calming and fascinating web of sound, creeping, crawling, slowly moving all over the place. All over you. Like 12XU say the album '...draws the listener into realms of both hypnosis and osmosis; drone for anyone and everyone.'.

As a massive amount of snow sprinkles and covers a pre-Easter Oslo outside my window, at times it feels a bit scaring listening to the slow-dronery of The Periscope Twins. Bringing something close to being a cabin fever, sort of. It is a bit claustrophobic. I am feeling stuck inside. Can't get out. Yet, the soundscapes of Brokaw is freeing and comforting melodies. He 'paints' some abstract 'pictures' with his music, but after a while - as they appear - they stand out quite clear and evident. Almost being palpable. They sound distinct and precise, like it all makes perfect sense in the end. This is an album holding music, which could hang on your wall, or in an art gallery. Highly visible music of beauty and atmosphere. This is for sure some imaginative soundscapes - escaping, drifting, flying, floating - within a perfect framework. 'I think with this album I decided to trust my instincts as much as possible. To absolutely go with feel, with both the music and the artwork.' (Chris Brokaw). Yes, Chris, trust your instincts, go with your feel. You don't need a big palette to come up with big music. I would like to end this with another quote from Marc Masters description: 'what impresses me most is how Brokaw merges randomness to logic. It all feels like it had to happen this way, even though I never know what's going to happen next.' True words.

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You may also want to check out our Chris Brokaw articles/reviews: An interview with..., The Codeine story, - Brokaw, on his new album The Periscope Twins, The Codeine story.

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