Twenty Six was the solo project of Chromatics/Glass Candy dude Johnny Jewel. Way back in the mid-1990s before those bands happened he was committing these introspective solo meanderings to four track, with the most significant of these recordings being this double LP I have before me right now, which is reminding me a little of Dead C dude Gate’s isolationist solo noodlings if he eased off the scuzz’n’fuzz.
It opens up with five minutes of sinister organic drones before the guitars of ‘Unbound’ come in, with a slow-building Slinty repeato-crescendo bit of krauty proto-post-rock which is slowly ovetaken by delightfully gnarly stretched out hi-gain fuzz towards the end for a satisfying and hypnotic jam. Overall the album seems to consist of a mixture of little ambient/neoclassical vignettes and longer, more krauty bong jams, often with synths being the dominant texture rather than guitar for a nostalgic and quite soulful swirl of analogue tone, particularly effective on the This Heat-esque ‘Wheels Within Wheels’, where the layers of sound are so thick you feel like you should be able to pick them up out of the air. It’s all slowly-paced, solitary, druggy and evocative, whether he’s tinkling gracefully on his piano, grinding out slow-swelling melodic drones or pulsing synth ambience or going full bedroom-kraut on us. Murky, introspective and consistently involving sounds.
The final side is entirely dedicated to mammoth closer ‘To Walk Forward and Not Look Back’, which opens with a jazzy looping groove which continues its melodic theme into free-chiming tinkles after after the drums drop out, untethering itself and drifting out into the melodic ether as delicate ambient details and spooky drones start to seep in through the cracks with foreboding certainty as the tune wanes to almost nothing, before the final few minutes introduce a hopeful Slint-esque guitar and drum groove for a palate-cleansing melodic finish. This whole album as impressed me but I’m especially keen on the longer pieces, and this last one in particular. The haunted introspective instrumentals throughout this LP make for a timeless and engrossing listen, though. Well worth investigating.
[Addendum: I have since heard from the label, who tell me that the only drugs involved in the creation of this record were caffeine and sleep deprivation. Extraordinary.]