Twin Princess: The Complete Recordings

Twin Princess
The Complete Recordings

The two members of Twin Princess perceive their musical project as an art experiment, not a band. In backing this rather pretentious claim, the Seattle-based duo points to its method of composition, splicing and expanding microseconds of sounds into songs, a process it refers to as “crux ‘n’ paste”.

Twin Princess comprises visual artist, designer, and writer Bootsy Holler and Kickstand, a.k.a. Ken Stringfellow, a producer and former member of the Posies. Despite its apparent reluctance to “allow” its music to be recorded (to use the press release’s stern language), Twin Princess has released two 7″ singles and contributed to a compilation. The contents of those recordings, plus two previously unreleased songs, make up The Complete Recordings. That’s right, a mere six songs in five years constitutes “complete” for this act.

Despite the off-putting manner in which the pair describes its work, the end product itself is quite sonically pleasing. While Twin Princess certainly has experimental tendencies, the duo is, in some ways, an alternative pop act. The most obvious example of a pop sensibility appears on the surprisingly straightforward cover of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra hit “Somethin’ Stupid”. Other than assuming a dirge-like tempo and inserting samples of drumbeats from Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice”, Twin Princess does little to turn the song into an art project. And judging from his stint in the Posies, Stringfellow never was one to hide his pop leanings anyway.

The remaining tracks, while certainly more artful and experimental, are hardly inaccessible. Although lead tracks “Althea” and “Seahorse Swim” are lovely but disjointed sonic paintings, the clean guitar on “Deep Sleep” gives it a jangle-pop underpinning that is sweetly welcoming. “Sorry” shows Twin Princess turning in a different direction, with discernible lyrics that deal with the disintegration of a relationship in a down-to-earth manner: “Sorry everything just seems / To cut you in half… / Sorry everything you do / Is making me mad”.

The final track, a lo-fi exercise called “Gimme a Kiss”, sounds like a lost Breeders track — in the best possible way. Punctuated by ragged guitar riffs and Holler’s weirdly seductively mumbles of “Hey / Come here / Gimme a kiss”, the track falls into that beautiful space where art meets plain old rocking out.

Perhaps Holler and Stringfellow are reluctant to make Twin Princess a full-fledged recording act because they fear it will lead to their being pigeonholed. That’s a trap they’ve neatly avoided in these six tracks, which are spectacularly heterogeneous in sound and spirit.