Twinkle³ Let’s Make A Solar System

A labour-of-love studio project with long time collaborators David Ross and Clive Bell combining almost everything we like all at once, which was delightedly received by reviewers all over the globe. Volume 2 is in process… Many, mostly highly enthusiastic, reviews in several languages are reproduced below:

by David Stubbs from The Wire #307 (September 2009)

In its silvery weave of ancient and modern (from Clive Bell’s shakuahchi to analogue synthesizers and samplers), and in the humble way in which its quite properly pretentious title is mooted, this is an album on which craftsmanship and a dazzling, celestial futurism are gently and devastatingly melded. Light trickles through the record’s every pore, from the utopian orientalism of “Scintilla” to the discreet, organic splendour of the two-part title track. Richard Scott and David Ross play alongside Bell, on inter alia, Buchla Lightning, percussion, Hawaiian tremolo, panart hang and “drosscilator”, instruments whose very names hint at the exquisite, aromatic impact of the album as a whole.

by Nicola Catalano
on Blow Up, may 2010 issue

Il primo LP sul finire del 2008, con la pubblicazione del bell’album di Blindhæd “Whether That Will Make People Want to Become Archaeologists, We’ll Have to See”, frutto della precisa scelta di stampare soltanto vinile. E ora le lussuose edizioni di Anaphoria e Twinkle3 che, in attesa di lavori firmati Francisco López, d’incise e Dave Phillips & Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, preparano la belga ini.itu ad un più che probabile botto a livello internazionale.
La politica l’etichetta si ravvisa già nella ragione sociale che nella traduzione letterale dall’indonesiano suona suppergiù “questo/qui.quello/lì” e nel motto (deleuziano?) “ci sono molti modi di essere qui e lì”.
Non sono da meno i moderni stregoni del giro London Musicians’ Collective che si celano dietro la sigla Twinkle3, ovvero Richard Scott, Clive Bell e David Ross. Alle prese con un’attrezzistica strumentale quanto meno curiosa e affascinante, che comprende tra l’altro hang, tremoloa hawaiana, un cordofono a metà tra cetra e chitarra, kantele baltico, strumento nazionale finlandese dalle origini leggendarie, le magie a infrarossi del Buchla lightning più varia altra elettronica tra cui un misterioso droscillator, i tre mettono in piedi una vera e propria cosmogonia personale, spaziale esempio di folclore globale tra astrazioni sperimentali e più accattivanti narrazioni acustico-elettroniche, inaspettatamente citando tra le proprie influenze l’alfiere della tradizione juju King Sunny Ade. (8/9)

by Frans de Waard
from Vital Weekly 672

The number 3 in the band name is written in subscript, but let’s not try this at home, fearing the announcement list software goes whoop again. This trio consists of Clive Bell playing shakuhachi, David Ross on hawaiian tremoloa, panart hang, kantele, droscillator and Richard Scott on bucla lightning, analogue synthesizer, sampler and processing and together this makes, well, a very odd record. The label places this somewhere along the lines of Mouse On Mars ‘Iahora Tahiti’, Ornette Coleman and King Sunny Ade, which makes a curious trio too, but I guess it makes sense. Scott’s apparatus never sound like ‘drone’ based, but rather jumpy notes and tones, whereas the two players of things acoustic add very lively music too. Its music that deals much more with rhythm than one would perhaps anticipate based on seeing this list of instruments. Mouse On Mars is never far away in this bunch, except that its not driven by real drums or real percussion. All of that comes from playing their instruments in a very active manner, whereas they never forget to play some more meditative tunes, especially when Bell’s shakuhachi plays a bigger role. A strange album, yet a compelling one too. Music that is fresh! New! Exciting! Odd but great. (FdW)

by Tobias Fischer from Tokafi

Fountains of bits and bleeps: A friendly supergroup team up for a work of dreamy electronica.

The high arts are indeed catching up to the 21st century: Confusing musical messages flash like diods on a switchboard. Websites of contemporary composers are being search-engine-optimised. Each day, Myspace accounts are spinning complex soundscapes in never-ending loops for millions of visitors. The wildest cross-over-experiments are sent back and forth through email, social networks and web-based collaboration tools. Twitter is quickly turning into the new creative morse-code, into a haiku for the mobile generation: Profound perceptions of music conveniently crammed into 140 characters. There is a guy who reviews entire albums in a single tweet – what would he make of „Let’s make a Solar System“? „Three renowned improvisers team up for a work of dreamy Electronica. Careful development of motives. Mood. Sequences. Shakuhachi.” Indeed: Everything has been said.

Or maybe it hasn’t. Yes, the facts are all there: The album features a trio whose combined experience in the field of sonic exploration easily justifies claims of them constituting a friendly supergroup. Over decade-long careers, their reach has been global, their appeal broad, their sound eclectic. While Richard Scott has immersed himself in the world of modular synthesizers and untiring acoustic curiosity, David Ross’ continuous journeys to the heart of the moment have made him one of the UK ‘s most revered improvisers. Clive Bell, on the other hand, has worked with artists as different as Jah Wobble, David Sylvian and Karl Jenkins – signs of a mind finely attuned to music’s inherent qualities rather than public images. The fine friction between Ross’ and Scott’s digital dots and dances and his Shakuhachi lines is indeed one of the most distinct characteristics of „Solar System“, which makes a point of contrasting organic- with synthetic material, mood work with proficiently unfolding themes and tranquilly agitated passages with intricately agitated tranquility.

And yet, there is so much more: The fountains of bits and bleeps shooting from Scott’s Buchla like acoustic rainbows from a slow-motion canon. The recurring emotional swell of Ross’ Hawaiian Tremoloa Guitar. Bell’s Flute signals, occasionally reduced to a single, rising, sustained and decaying tone. The title track consists of two segments and a reprise, all of them delicate variations of the same material, bubbling rhythmical patterns underpinning drones, melodies, breaths and sound effects as discreet as the sound of crickets on the outer edge of the horizon. There is no such thing as repetition here, each version a completely autarkic work in its own right differentiated by context and development. In the more minimally arranged tracks, Bell’s solos ring out meditatively in front of sparse gong sounds and shifting constellations of de-harmonically intertwined lines. A Bass will play a moony sequence of notes only to disappear again behind a curtain of electronica, before a pattern has been able to establish itself.

Throughout, the layering of the music and the seamless passing on of the baton takes on seminal importance. Much more than a regular ensemble of improvisers, Twinkle3 combine into a fluctuating musical entity not dissimilar to a solar corona, constantly brimming with light-filled energy, yet only occasionally releasing itself in volcanic outbursts. This intense metaphor may belie the quiet nature of the album, which always sounds as though someone were raising his finger to lips, careful not to rupture the gentle equilibrium, which seems to be at the core of the performers’ aims. Unlike many comparable efforts, however, it also notably sounds as though everyone must have been smiling while recording this – making a Solar System may be a much more intuitive and happy affair than some may have thought. The music, meanwhile, withdraws both from easy explanations and mythical transfiguration. 140 characters could not nevr do justice to this: Only after one has fully and emphatically embraced this flow of outward contradictions, reinforcements, melody, harmony, mood, texture, metaphors and allusions has everything truly been said.

description on Boomkat,
april 2010

Released on the same Ini.itu label that gave us the great Francisco Lopez LP Untitled 228, this album is just as limited in supply, pressed up in an edition of 250 copies. Twinkle3 is the trio of Richard Scott (who plays Buchla Lightning, analogue synthesizer and sampler), David Ross (a multi-instrumentalist specialising in various strange and exotic devices, previously heard improvising with Evan Parker) and Clive Bell (an accomplished shakuhachi player), surely the best known of the three, having played on Jah Wobble’s last 18 albums as well as recordings by David Sylvian, Paul Schutze, Bill Laswell and Jeff Beck. Let’s Mae A Solar System takes on a sound that seems to mix and match various different elements that wouldn’t immediately seem to be compatible. In addition to plodding, dub-tinged analogue synthesizer basslines, the electronic components throw up all kinds of different flecks of spongy debris, but it’s the clash between these elements and the far earthier tones of Bell’s Japanese flute or Ross’s Hawaiian tremoloa that make this record so sonically unique. Despite the potential for a cross-cultural hodgepodge, it transpires that all players know exactly what they’re doing and the resultant recordings are not only coherent but highly musical too, with the low-end rhythmic presence of Scott’s synthesizer maintaining a welcoming rumble through much of the album. The final passage on the B-side, ‘For Dust’ stands out for abandoning these sorts of sounds, instead relying on a steadied, hand-crafted flow of slow jazzy tones for its driving force. A very unusual LP that occasionally stirs up references to organic electronic practitioners like Tape, or even Mouse On Mars, Let’s Make A Solar System doesn’t quite sound like anything else.

by Fabrice Vanoverberg,
in Rif Raf 159, April 2010

Le nom l’indique, Twinkle³ est un trio tout sauf composé de manchots – sur qui les
années ne semblent avoir aucune prise. Entre collaborateur de Jah Wobble (Clive
Bell, également aperçu aux côtés de Brian Eno), ami d’Evan Parker (David Ross, une
des idoles du Wire) et compositeur/improvisateur de haut vol (Richard Scott), Twinkle³
a tout des allures du super groupe ultra indie. Le ramage valant très largement
le plumage, on est tout sauf déçu à l’écoute de leur ‘Let’s Make A Solar System’.
Davantage mélodique que les autres productions du label ini.itu, leur disque intègre
des instruments acoustiques inusités (une flûte japonaise, un trémoloa hawaïen) à un
séquençage analogique sur fond de lignes de basses dub. Evidemment à des annéeslumière
du tout venant electronica, leur démarche demande toutefois un certain sens
de l’introspection tonale. Vivace sans être pressée, leur démarche n’est heureusement
guère monotone. Evitant tout exotisme de pacotille, les instruments acoustiques
s’intègrent avec conviction à la modernité, et quitte à heurter les réfractaires de tout
mauvais poil, leur manière promet de beaux lendemains à quiconque reviendra sur ses
pas bombés.

by Ant from Norman Records

This record left our Ant feeling happy.

More limited edition vinyl here from the ini itu label from Twinkle³. From the off this has a fresh feel about it, ‘Let’s Make A Solar System’ has a playful uplifting vibe with its bleeps that make me think of beings communicating in some alien sonar language. The kit that Richard Scott, David Ross and Clive Bell employ is most impressive: Buchla Lightning, Analogue Synthesizer, Sampler, Hawaiian Tremola, Panart Hang, Kantele, Drosscillator, Sakuhachi. I haven’t a clue what half of those instruments are but they do make some lovely sounds which at times feel oriental. Brett is reminded of Toru Takemitsu. There’s a good mix of both the organic and synthetic elements. They’re certainly doing something unique here and although it’s an experimental record there’s enough melody and warmth to make it very accessible. Nice underwater photography on the sleeve from Judith Goodman. I like anything to do with the sea. I’m going to be reicarnated as a mollusc.

by Ian Holloway
from Wonderful Wooden Reasons

A trio consisting of Richard Scott, David Ross & Clive Bell, Twinkle³ has a pedigree to raise an eyebrow to and it shows on this their first collaboration. The music on ‘Let’s Make a Solar System’ is every bit as fun as the title and that name imply. The three have mixed synths, hawaiian tremoloa, shakuhachi & much more to produce music that is brimming with life and light. In places it’s almost dance music, some beat addict could add a drumline to these recordings and it could easily be a new album from Wibutee or Xploding Plastix. Without the drums however this still swoops and soars like a folk music for the most exotic of lands.

by Justin Wunsch from Dusted Magazine

Not sure what to make of this Ini.Itu label – that Blindhaed record made me think it was all about super conceptual sound art/new minimalism, but then this record fits more into the IDM category, if such a thing still exists. Twinkle^3 use some traditional instruments (such as a shakuhachi) but they’re employed more as dressing on an electronic salad. Bubbles of synthesized stones pop out in every direction, sometimes threatening to sound like a novelty record but generally forming the momentum of these nine compositions. The electroacoustic textures shimmer and the whole thing is so impeccably recorded that it’s hard not to smile at the pure serotonin rush caused by wonderful bright synthetic sound. It’s not electronica you can dance to but it’s not boring either; if anything you could probably see this as a throwback to the non-rave electronic underground of days past. If you’ve read a few books by David Toop, chances are you’ll understand this too.

by Sietse van Erve from

RATED: 8 / 10

An album full of joyful and playful pieces created with acoustic instruments and electronics.

The Shakuachi is a flute that is common in Japanese classical music, but in most Western music associated with new age movements. The sound of this flute in general leaves this relaxing feeling.
Twinkle³ is the trio Richard Scott, David Ross & Clive Bell, who make use of this specific flute among other acoustic instruments like a Hawaiian slide guitar and a panart hang (a percussion instrument) in combination with electronics. Let’s make a solar system is their first release which comes on the label ini.itu.
All three members have their feet in the avant-garde and improvised music scene and done quite some impressive work with too much different artists to mention here.
With this in mind I really had no idea what to expect before playing this record, so all things are possible.

The first thing noticed when playing this album is the light note in the music. While having their feet in improvisation, this album doesn’t wear any form of pretentiousness.
In the music there are many influences from the last 10 years of electronic music. There is a playful note coming from the IDM world, there is melancholy from ambient music and there is a laid back touch from indietronics. These different elements are mixed up nicely making this a fresh album. The sparse jazzy flavours that are added to the music only underline this.

On side A of the album we hear the lightest pieces which sometimes refer to Nobukazu Takemura. The lightness you hear in his music is what you find in these pieces also. A joyful play with skipping sounds. Soft bleeps and pops jumping through the air.
On side B we hear a little bit more melancholy, but even here it never gets heavy. This side has a slightly bigger focus on the shakuachi, which makes it all dreamier. Though, we keep hearing these playful sounds back in the music.

Twinkle³ has managed to create an easy going album which can be recommended when being tired after a long day of work. As the flute made me think of new age at first, there is much more to find here than one would think. Instead of just plain relaxation this album also will bring a smile to your face.

by Sergey (Maeror3)

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by Sarah Vacher ( Ruidemos )

Para este su estreno discográfico como el trío Twinkle³, los veteranos músicos Richard Scott, David Ross y Clive Bell han diseñado magistralmente un disco de tejidos instrumentales, a base de sintetizador analógico y un sampler hilan, en constante ondulación, animada o contemplativa, pero siempre con la suavidad y hondura con que se desplazan las corrientes acuáticas (como nos sugiere la portada del disco), en torno a un áurea de abstracción y exótico misterio. Movimientos insinuantes y evocadores, entre improvisaciones, melopeas, glissandi y una base a menudo jazzy, dan lugar a texturas dulcemente escurridizas. Aunque es cierto que los trazos y los timbres plasman cierta experimentación, no traslucen aspereza alguna, sino todo lo contrario, sus autores cuidan bien de que los sonidos emitidos sean de agradable escucha, incluidos los ruiditos, salpimentando a veces las animaciones. Las superficies están pulidas, los contornos redondeados, las subidas y bajadas son pequeñas e inocuas, pero de un atractivo especial. Por momentos, las piezas tienen visos de juegos de luces fantasiosos, o incluso, juguetes de despertar la imaginación, soñando diminutos saltamontes electrónicos en una amena conversación con figuras fantasmales y vaporosas, como un divertimento que no obvie ciertos pasajes de introspección. En el transcurso de la obra, podemos repetidamente observar esa alianza, en definitiva una doble faceta de actuación y expresión; la una, más constructivista, la otra, que roza la melancolía, en una alternancia acción-reflexión. Una música donde las vestimentas no pesan y las dominantes son poco polarizantes, levedad y elevación, alcanzadas a través de unas calidades sonoras e interpretativas muy distinguidas.

by Textura

Twinkle³ may not yet be all that much of a known quantity but certainly its three members—Richard Scott, David Ross, and Clive Bell—will be familiar to experimental music listeners: Scott is a British composer with ties to the London Musician’s Collective and STEIM; Ross is an associate of Bell, Evan Parker, and Andy Cox; and Bell himself has built a considerable reputation as a collaborator of Jah Wobble, Paul Schütze, and David Sylvian, among others. The three bring respective strengths and sounds to the recording, with Ross contributing analogue synthesizer, buchla lightning, and sampler while Bell plays shakuhachi and Ross Hawaiian tremoloa, panart hang, kantele, and drosscillator. What comes out the other end is an idiosyncratic and cross-cultural blend that suggests ties to jazz, gamelan, improv, and electronic musics.

A comparison is drawn to Mouse on Mars’ Iahora Tahiti that isn’t unfounded, as Twinkle³ evidences a kindred open-ended and child-like playfulness in its music too. That the band cites King Sunny Adé as an influence is also telling, as Twinkle³ pursues a similarly buoyant and nimble-footed style on the rhythm front. Scott’s squealing and squiggling analogue synthesizers dart thither and yon as dubby bass lines etch out serpentine paths and Ross’s Hawaiian tremoloa shifts the music to tropical locales. Bell ‘s shakuhachi playing can’t help but transport the music to a Far East Temple where gamelan percussion instruments keep time. Certain parts suggest the improvising spirit of a jazz artist such as Bill Frisell, and, while there are many lively and light-hearted moments, there are introspective and reflective passages too (one midway through side two is particularly affecting). From the evidence at hand, it would appear that the “solar system” the trio’s aiming to create may not just reside in the skies above but underwater too, given the music’s free-floating character and the glissandi-like flutter generated by the synthesizers. That Let’s Make a Solar System proves to be an immediately accessible listen shouldn’t be construed to mean the music’s simple or unsophisticated. There’s a plenitude of sounds in play at any given moment, and attending to the uncluttered interplay of the trio is one of the recording’s major pleasures.

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