Slim Twig | A Hound at the Hem (Calico Corp/Pleasance)

cd slim-twigOn the first listen, I knew this was the album I have been waiting for all year.


Back in August, I got to review an album that was a bit of a surprise hit for me, Slim Twig’s Sof Sike. In the review, I gave a basic overview of who this artist is and what he is about. The album was surprisingly good and I have been listening to it ever since. A Hound at the Hem is billed to be the hard-psych flipside to Sof Sike as a baroque tribute to the classic Nabokov novel Lolita and Serge Gainesbourg’s A Histoir De Melody Nelson. A Hound at the Hem actually pre-dates Sof Sike and, born out of an intense musical process, Slim Twig considers A Hound at the Hem to be his “finest (and certainly densest) musical achievement to date.”

Beginning with “Heavy Splendour,” it is easy to see the baroque influence, but there is much, much more than that. Instantly, the haunting vocals of this opening track draw you in while the instrumentation is precise and dark. On the first listen, I knew this was the album I have been waiting for all year.

The way that this album builds, flows, and works is something artists strive for. Given his background as a producer, Slim Twig has put together a well-thought-out album. Take “Shroud by the Sheetful,” which begins with the sounds of harpsichords through what seems to be a synth, before veering into a Zombies-esque pop song. The levels are perfect, the layers are correct, and there is so much going on to achieve a certain effect that will be overlooked by most listeners, but is so important.

This is not an easy album to listen to, but that is more because of the vocals than the music itself. The almost post-punk styling of Slim Twig will turn a lot of listeners off, but there is a quality to them that has been lost through the vocal modulations so prevalent of late. Even with the somewhat difficult gap, the instrumentation is so fantastic that I can’t imagine not wanting to listen to this record. Part of me does wish though that this album had dropped in early October, as I could see this being a hit at Halloween parties on college campuses around the country. Take “Maintain the Charade,” a dark track with fuzzed-out guitars and a ’60s feel that sounds like something best suited for a Tim Burton film or a Shangi-Las bio-pic soundtrack: All of the treble and high end in the track lack any sustain and only accents the deep, pulsating percussion.

For an eight-track album, A Hound at the Hem sounds much bigger. The musical ability of the artist is highlighted and the unique creativity stands apart from any other artist releasing music at this point. I say buy this record and buy a copy for someone you really like as a gift. It might be hard to listen to the first time, but that is just part of the artist, and as you continue to listen you will only love the record more and more. A+ | Alex Hodschayan

RIYL: Joy Division, Serge Gainsbourg, Low

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