A miniature EP by Joe Twist: three works about ‘dance’; only 23 minutes. As in most of Twist’s music, allusions to popular culture are abundant. Dancing With Somebody – a string quartet – celebrates the persona (with some musical quotations) of pop diva Whitney Houston. Twist sets rhythmic buoyancy against a dark struggle. A subversive structure plays out: patterns are set up, then disturbed (though not repeated!), all aided by first-rate playing from the Sydney-based Acacia Quartet.

In I Dance Myself to Sleep, Twist looks to female characters from films such as Superman and Star Wars. Am I listening to contemporary music for the concert hall or cheap bar music? (I ask that with admiration: Twist squeezes a familiar genre into something weirdly beautiful). Pianist Sally Whitwell is a gorgeous co-conspirator in
Twist’s ironic game.

The crystalline sound of quartet and piano jars with the overly-sampled Gorilla, a film score. A couple on a weekend away meet an alluring woman and a ritualistic dance takes place. I imagined some sort of sacramental physical theatre but this has too much sampled music masquerading as live instruments. The fade-out at the end was too obvious for what was (so far) an exciting cycle of interrelated instrumental works.

Like Nico Muhly, Twist ignores the line between ‘classical music’ and ‘album’ with taste and energy. Let’s hear more! 

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