Thursday, April 5, 2012

Twisted Nerve – Séance (+1 Records, 1984)



Unusually coming out of Edinburgh, Twisted Nerve presumably took their name from The Damned song on The Black Album (Chiswick Records, 1980), although it could just have easily come from the British horror flick of the same name (1968). Twisted Nerve had been around for some years before they would record Seance. It had been preceded by the Caught in Session 7” (Playlist Records, 1982), the Five Minutes of Fame 7” and the Eyes You Can Drown In 12” (both on Criminal Damage Records, 1983), the latter featuring some rather pleasing art-decoesque cover art.


The Séance mini-album was the largest project the band would embark on, although its cover art is quite the let-down after Eyes You Can Drown In. I imagine the woman is supposed to be in trance, but what is that stuff around her supposed to be? Ectoplasm? Psychic emanations? The Veil between worlds? The maze puzzle from The Beano #15? Nevermind, let us move on…

From then on, you could count the “Goth” bands on the fingers of one battalion”, commented Mick Mercer in The Gothic Rock Black Book (Omnibus Press, 1988), “and in truth, it became ripe for knocking, what with Twisted Nerve, Seventh Séance and a whole host of bands who got it wrong.

To be honest I, for the most part, really enjoyed the Séance EP and considering Mick doesn’t explain what he meant by “got it wrong”, always thought this a little unfair. Closer inspection of the lyrics may give us some clue though. Some of these really are pretty silly, which is a shame, because musically, the song “Séance” itself is actually quite good.:

Sitting round the table in (unclear)
Spiritual communion for all to see
Force your way through to the other side,
Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Silver candlestick and flickering flame
At least you’re even with the vein (???)
Finger on the glass, hand on the heart
Come in non-believer if you’re so (unclear) and start.

Séance…
            Séance…

She’ll show you images from your past,
But the wind rushes in and moves the glass,
You don’t have (unclear), ignore the voices,
No alternatives, you’ve got no choices.

Family portrait on the wall,
Showing it all, all way through the hall,
(unclear)
Come in non-believer if you’re so (unclear) and start.

Séance…
            Séance…

Honestly, if silly, over the top ghost stories are what you want from your music you don’t need Goth; This guy has been at it for the last 30 years. Now he sells merchandise.
Of course, this is not a new problem to artistic genres that naturally lend themselves to excess. Indeed, the Gothic novelists of the 1760s to around the 1890s were dreadfully (often in the most literal sense) familiar with the problem. This is why the more subtle and better written examples of the genre like Frankenstein (Shelly, 1818), Fall of the House of Usher (Poe, 1839) and Dracula (Stoker, 1897) are today remembered as classics, while numerous others like The Castle of Otranto (Walpole, 1764), Mysteries of Udolpho (Radcliffe, 1794) and their even more numerous imitators are remembered if at all, with derision, drowning in their outrageously camp, over the top scenes and purple prose and ultimately satirized by Jane Austin in Northanger Abby (1817). But we digress…

The rather more punky “Yes Man” follows, and for me is the strongest song on the album, with Craig’s vocals alternating somewhere between Peter Murphy and Adam Ant. “Twisted Nervosis” also pleases, even when it does fall into the same trap of lyrical excess as “Séance” – there is definitely such a thing as being too “goth” for your own good, as far too many bands of the second wave in the 90’s would later discover. “Freak of Nature” is probably the weakest song here, not that it’s bad, more that it doesn’t seem to do much. “Scaramouche” is a much stronger creature, even if the chorus does grate and then we finish with the whimsical “It’s all in the Mind”.

But, enough of my waffle. Just listen to the beast:

Séance

Yes Man

Twisted Nervosis (Live) 

Freak of Nature

Scaramouche

It’s all in the Mind

I personally think that Séance remains a very under-rated and for the most part, enjoyable, album that’s well worth taking the time to listen to. Twisted Nerve are still going (or reformed? It’s not really clear) and evidently still actively gigging:


Twisted Nerve now

Indeed, a gig not two months ago!


Track Listing:
  1. Séance
  2. Yes Man
  3. Twisted Nervosis
  4. Freak of Nature
  5. Scaramouche
  6. It’s all in the Mind


Line Up: Craig Paterson (vocals), Colin Moxey (guitar, backing vocals), Norbert Bassbin (bass), Keith Hamilton (drums).












2 comments:

  1. Twisted Nerve are- Craig vocals, Norbert Bassbin bass, Rikki Stiv guitars and The Reverend Billy D drums. Twisted Nerve are gigging all over Europe and have a new record out soon.

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