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Twilight Archive's Long Journey Results in a Chill-Out Mood Chain

Mood Chain

Mood Chain

You’ve got to admire the perseverance of Chris Mancinelli.  After taking an unsuccessful crack at the Los Angeles music scene in the mid eighties, he got into music management via Gecko Records in California.  From there, he was involved with the Norwegian pop band Borneo Express, worked with Osamu Kitajima and Apollon Records in Japan, and was the tour manager for the Moody Blues.  He’s also created sound design for art exhibits, contributed to film and television soundtracks, composed for commercials and public service announcements, and been a consultant.  After becoming enamored with the potential of electronica, he began tinkering with fusing his two early loves—percussion and jazz—before finally forming the independent project Twilight Archive and his own label, thanks to the new ease of digital releasing.  This is a guy who has earned the right to release whatever he wants, and now he can.

Twilight Archive’s new album, Mood Chain, is the product of everything Mancinelli has experienced in the industry.  He handles the bulk of the percussion and bass, while Tom Vedvik performs synths and John Fumo is on the horns.  Mood Chain is not a release of at-last catharsis, but a smooth and easy electro-jazz hybrid that’s clearly been influenced by downtempo acts such as Thievery Corporation and Massive Attack (Mancinelli is quick to admit as such).  While not as groove-heavy as the former and nowhere near as angst-ridden as the latter, it’s easy to hear how those two groundbreaking bands have influenced the shaping of Twilight Archive’s brand of jazz-inspired rhythm and horns.

The sound here is closer to jazz-infused IDM than dub or trip-hop; Fumo’s trumpet and flugelhorn erupt in improvised flurries here and there, often becoming the focus over the IDM-style glitches, sliding bass lines, and minimally slick keys and pads.  There’s snippets of sampled voices too, which I appreciate, and these help add an atmosphere of mystery and personality to the otherwise consistently laid-back mood defining the ten tracks.  It’s especially strong on “Arcane Alibi” (my favorite track) and “Ethereal Etiquette,” which are clearly cinematic in their style and execution, with calm backing synth chords, deep bass, and incidental horns.  “Sense Making Stops” is a particularly cool slice of ambient jazz; Fumo controls his trumpet a bit more here, and it’s to the music’s benefit. I’ve always found the manic and strident side of jazz to be a bit too distracting, but if you’re the type who likes a nice helping of brass along with your electronics, you’ll adapt to the mood faster than I did.

Mancinelli’s career may not be the typical rags-to-riches success story, but it is the tale of a guy who’s had a lifelong love affair with music in an enviable variety of ways.  He waited patiently for things to fall into place, and when they finally did, he took advantage to create something fully his own, without compromise.  It’s easy to pull off for a guy like him, but it’s also remarkable to hear that after such a twisting life in the music business, he’s still got the talent and inspiration to put together a highly listenable record.  Twilight Archive may not be particularly inventive or experimental, but due to Mancinelli’s long and multi-faceted history, it’s a project equally worthy of support.


Track List:

01) Sense Making Stops
02) Inner Over Look
03) Unlit Blueprint
04) Location Unknown
05) The Divining Rod
06) Blackout Savvy
07) Midnight Memento
08) Arcane Alibi
09) Unfamiliar Shadows
10) Ethereal Etiquette

Written by: Edward Rinderle
Label: Electrophonogram (United States) / electrophonogram 201503 / CD, Digital
Ambient Jazz / IDM