twig twig

VIDEO PREMIERE: twig twig - Only One

Phillipe Roberts

The art-pop delicacies Brooklyn’s Zubin Hensler creates as twig twig are playful in production and generous in melody, grasping for personal truth with eager fingers through plush, psychedelic soundscapes. Owing no small debt to his extensive work in scoring for film and television, the songs have always played cinematic—bubbly and bright with a penchant for cartoonish left-turn transitions. On his latest album, darkworld gleaming, Hensler goes for broke, releasing his most animated collection yet. Cut from the same carnivalesque Technicolor cloth as Kishi Bashi or a digitized Grizzly Bear, darkworld gleaming is as tender as it is adventurous.

The intimate vocal performances and woozy, aquatic instrumental textures of “Only One” capture this dichotomy precisely, and the track finally has a video to match. Hand-drawn overlays are applied over reels of film, translating the song’s fizzed-out, grainy quality quite literally. Gooey red letters slide by, hardly synced up to the beat as they’re met with footage of leafy plants and a bus driving backwards, nonsensical questions, and a bizarre cameo by Woody from Toy Story growing a five o’ clock shadow in sequence. It’s a charming, whimsical portrait of the song. Unconcerned with keeping a grip on reality, twig twig free-associates into a marvelous new wonderland.

PREMIERE: Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Too Many Dreams (Remix) [feat. twig twig]

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Will Shenton

With twig twig's new remix of Jonah Parzen-Johnson's "Too Many Dreams," from last summer's I Try To Remember Where I Come From, the track is wholly transformed. Where the original simmers and meanders, a meditation on its intertwining saxophone and electronics, twig twig's is punchy right out the gate. Opening with elastic synths and an anticipatory falsetto, it's not long before Parzen-Johnson's saxophone bursts into an explosive hook, propelling the song from one irresistible groove to the next.

The collaboration between artists as stylistically diverse as Parzen-Johnson and twig twig makes for some startlingly intricate textures as well. At any given moment, the interplay of synths, percussion, sax, and ever-so-slightly distorted vocals gives the track a richness that's a joy to unravel. "Too Many Dreams" is a blend of ingredients that demands more exploration, and we hope we'll see these two working together again in the future.

Catch Jonah Parzen-Johnson on his EU tour:

13/4/18 - Lisbon, Portugal - Culturgest

14/4/18 - Paris, France - Le Zorba

15/4/18 - Köln, Germany - Salon De Jazz

18/4/18 - Opwijk, Belgium - Nosta

19/4/18 - Ghent, Belgium - Bar Mirwaar

20/4/18 - Charleroi, Belgium - Pointculture

PREMIERE: Twig Twig - It's Late

Raquel Dalarossa

After two EPs, both released back in 2016, it's about time for a full-length debut from twig twig. Dropping on May 4th via OTHERFEELS records, Darkworld Gleaming will feature eight new tracks from the Brooklyn artist, but until then, we have the album's first single to tide us over.

"It's Late" is an experimental electro-pop earworm with a rough-around-the-edges sound that makes twig twig's music feel instantly intimate and warm. The expert songwriting and mixing should be no surprise to those who know the man behind the solo outfit, Zubin Hensler, given his past life on the stage and in the studio with acts like Sylvan Esso, Son Lux, and Fleet Foxes. Hensler crafts the song's beat using the sound of ticking gears that occasionally skip, as though they're playing from a broken music box. Paired with his soft falsetto, it lends an almost child-like innocence that has become something of his signature sound. But it's contrasted against lyrics like "Try although I try / There's no way to look away," hinting at a quiet chaos around the song.

Of the track, Hensler notes:

"I began working on 'It's Late' in the summer of 2016, it was the first thing I wrote for this new album. I hesitate to say it's a political song, but I think everything was political that summer...I was definitely feeling a big sense of impending doom and searching for a way to process that."

We're looking to hearing what else he has in store with Darkworld Gleaming. Until then, watch our Blue Room video with the artist and pre-order the album here.

PREMIERE: twig twig - Wipe Away

"Wipe Away," the new single from Brooklyn solo project twig twig (AKA Zubin Hensler), is the work of an artist at the top of his game. Tested in the studio and onstage with big-name acts like Sylvan Esso, My Brightest Diamond, Son Lux, and numerous others, Hensler has followed up his debut solo EP (normal feelings) with quite a bit of swagger, and the result is irresistible.

The song starts relatively slow, awash in airy synths, before twig twig's signature groove kicks in alongside heavily modulated, falsetto vocals. It's not long before we're treated to an explosive chorus of retro-sounding electronics, and rolling lyrics that can't help but get stuck in your head: "I could be the one to drive you insane / I could be the one you run around in the rain with / Tell me what you wanna do and I'll be there / Giving it everything I've got."

It's not so much the structure of "Wipe Away" that makes it impressive—in fact, it's a pretty standard verse-chorus-verse. What's exceptional is Hensler's execution, replete with layer upon layer of instrumental texture and brilliantly managed tension. The song never drags, and closing out at 2:46, hitting the replay button is almost reflexive. Chances are we'll be doing that right up until his new EP drops later this year.

REVIEW: twig twig - Normal Feelings

Kelly Kirwan

twig twig has a taste for warbled electro-pop. His beats twist and bend around high, lullaby vocals that are spattered with the occasional quirky cameo: a flurry of wind chimes, loose change scattered across the floorboards. His freshly-minted EP, Normal Feelings, is filled to the brim with these experimental synth arrangements, which makes sense considering the man behind the curtain—Zubin Hensler—and his stacked resume. To quickly sing his praises, Hensler has taken to stage and studio with outfits like Sylvan Esso, Half Waif, Son Lux, and My Brightest Diamond, while also rounding out the brass quartet The Westerlies and scoring the occasional film or documentary (screened on Univision, National Geographic, and others).

So, in a nutshell, we’re not dealing with a rookie. Rather, we’re dealing with Zubin Hensler unfiltered. The six tracks that comprise Normal Feelings were self-made, self-released, and are thus the ultimate form of self expression. And, if we’ve learned anything from our first listen, it’s that twig twig and his work are multi-layered. Going through the EP felt like walking through a carnival funhouse without the kitsch. It was immersive and distorted—a snapshot of Hensler’s inner thoughts, which were then contorted and exaggerated by his melodies. 

For instance, “Get It” is particularly taught with synth, metallic clanks (an album motif), and fuzzy fringes. It sits in relative contrast to “Fade Away,” which is likely the most subdued track of the album, with Hensler’s soft, lilting vocals pressing, “Tell the truth / I don’t want to wait for you / Would you ever want to fade away / Would you notice if I fade away?” 

The song has a slow pace, steady clapping, and occasional punctuation of twangy electronic effects. It also carries this sense of melancholy that lingers on twig twig’s debut—like those fleeting moments of existential crisis we’ve all experienced (well, haven’t we?). To Line of Best Fit, Hensler explained the impetus for “Fade Away,” citing long conversations where your mind wanders and “you realize, all of a sudden, that you're a tiny insect, slowly drowning in a swimming pool on a sunny day."

A more optimistic form of uncertainty on the album comes in the form of “Tryn Out.” “I can’t find a way to be / I don’t know what’s the matter with me / Trying to be somebody you like,” Hensler sings, but both his tone and backtrack feel sunny despite the angst. It’s essentially an anthem for dating—that minefield of giddy jitters, dull connection, and, from time to time, disappointment. 

Normal Feelings is nothing if not intimate. In fact, Hensler admits that his new EP is a essentially a time capsule, revealing who he was at the time of its creation. It’s certainly complicated to revisit the past and note how you've changed, but as twig twig would say, “it’s fun because it means you’re never done.” 

Sounds like a promise of more things to come, and we’ll be waiting.