Standout Track: “Ultra Vires,” an instrumental that splits the difference between spacey shoegaze and industrial-strength psych-rock. Guitarists Mike Ball and Franco Brockelman vamp on a syrupy progression that goes down like cough suppressant, while drummer Chris Dunham and bassist David Topping ride the leaden groove like brontosaurus herders.
Musical Motivation: The D.C. quartet takes its inspiration from 35 years’ worth of guitar-based experimental rock, citing the Velvet Underground, Can, Spacemen 3, and Sonic Youth as influences. “Ultra vires” is Latin for “beyond the powers,” which speaks to the uncontrollable, highly morphable nature of the track. “‘Ultra Vires’ is probably our longest-surviving song and a favorite of ours to play live,” says Dunham, 39. “The main riffs are on the heavy side, and the second half of the song is completely improvised based on Mike’s and Franco’s guitar parts and the way they intertwine.”
The Dough Must Go On: “Ultra Vires” was recorded in March at Arlington’s Inner Ear Studios, but it remains something of a work-in-progress. “We tend to stumble on certain sounds or rhythms that we find interesting and from that develop a frame or a mode for a song,” says Dunham. Live, this can mean terse aural workouts or extended explorations, depending on the band’s mood. “One week a song may be 10 or 12 minutes long, and at a show two weeks later the same song is only five,” he says. “Music doesn’t have to be linear in scope, as if it’s a bread recipe or an engine tuneup.”
Twin Earth plays the Red & the Black Wednesday, July 30.