Twilight Circus 10″

Twilight Circus featuring Big Youth – Love Is What We Need 10″ EP (M Records)
Twilight Circus featuring Luciano – What We Got To Do Now 10″ EP (M Records)

After several days of blazing heat – down came the rain. Lightning FLASH Thunder CRASH over Liverpool Street station. All the commuters soaked in their summer clothes – hair dripping, make up running. Heh.

Boom weather for boom tunes. Twilight Circus operates out of Amsterdam and is the vision of one man, Ryan Moore. Ryan makes wicked reggae and dub and is another post-industrial refugee, being a (former?) member of weirdo psychedelia merchants Legendary Pink Dots.

My soggy pocket contains two promo CDs cadged off Greg Whitfield. First up is a tough tough collaboration with Big Youth: “Love is What We Need”. I guess this came out about a year ago – lyrically it transports us back to a time of Weapons of Mass Destruction and debates with the UN. Jah Youth is on top form here – chanting down the war mongers.

The production is equally top notch – straddling UK and classic JA, tight but loose with fantastic live horns. The dub is a stormer, opening with some crisp rim shots and phased brass. When the vocals float over the top, everything is present and correct. Perfect!

I’m a bit wary of reggae “remixes” – it means someone feels that version is not sufficient. However the remix here is a different kettle of fish – a complete reworking of the backing track with some great jazzy stylings (and let’s be honest, when have you heard me say that before, eh?)

“What we got to do now” is a further collaboration, with Luciano – one of my favourite contemporary vocalists. A nice plea to come together to solve the world’s problems. The mix is much less “traditional” than the Big Youth. Beats are more binghi tinged and there is a whole spectrum of weird noises and stuff going on in the background – even the bass is taken down a notch. This makes it all much less immediate but rewards are paid if you pay it all the requisite attention.

The version is dub at its most spacey – we are in “sounds echoing across an alien landscape” mode for sure. But surprisingly, the remixes hold the key. Again, I was aghast at the idea of a “club mix” – expecting clod hopping trance or lame hip hop. But Twilight Circus are wiser than that. Club mix here means a techno relick in the same neighbourhood as Rhythm & Sound. In terms of tempo it reminds me more of some of the Chain Reaction stuff I’ve heard but it really works well – exactly the sort of mutant cross-over people have been crying out for.

The closing track is an acoustic number with vocals and guitar only. Really moving stuff.

Outside of the Crooklyn Dub Consortium compilations this is the first time I’ve given Twilight Circus due attention. They certainly hooked me in, though. There’s enough creativity and talent here to warrant serious further investigation.

[Both tracks, but not all the versions or mixes, also feature on the recent Twilight Circus album “Foundation Rockers”]