’Round Midnight Alumni Provide Idiosyncratic Sound

Nicolas Vigilante

Matt Young and Gene Fukui, both OC ’14 and better known as TWINKIDS, demolished barriers of genre at a house show in Oberlin this past Friday, Feb. 6. Their enigmatic set recalled everything from Kaskade to Simon & Garfunkel. TWINKIDS represent a conglomeration of Fukui’s and Young’s individual musical aesthetics, drawing on Fukui’s experience songwriting for major Japanese labels as well as Young’s background in classical piano and music theory. The duo met while singing in ’Round Midnight, Oberlin’s student folk and jazz a cappella group.

TWINKIDS reached a major professional milestone when they participated in the Banff Centre’s Independent Music Residency this past fall. Four bands are selected each year to attend this prestigious program, which is led by Brendan Canning, a founding member of indie rock band Broken Social Scene. The program involves two weeks of study in the Canadian Rockies with veterans of the music industry, including Weezer co-producer Shawn Everett and Crystal Castles engineer Alex Bonenfant.

The effects of varied forms of musical training were easy to hear upon listening to TWINKIDS’ music. Young and Fukui tackled tricky harmonic ideas and metric structures with

apparent impunity and demonstrated their musical chops by pulling off these intricate songs. Their songs contained musical ideas interwoven with one another to a near-dizzying extent. But in addition to all their complexity, TWINKIDS also exhibited a pop-like sensibility. This element kept their songs engaging and listenable.

The interplay between Young and Fukui defined TWINKIDS’ style. Watching the two interact while performing was intriguing. Each paid such close attention to what the other was doing that it appeared they had completely forgotten about the audience and instead concentrated on upholding the synchronicity that was so central to their music. Double-degree sophomore Margaret McCarthy and College senior Joseph Magee, performing as mid Atlantic rift and Cofaxx respectively, joined TWINKIDS to fill out the bill. mid Atlantic rift’s sound was complicated but enjoyable. Unfortunately, a combination of poor mixing and less than ideal acoustics hampered the performance. Cofaxx eschewed the headiness of mid Atlantic rift’s music in favor of unexceptional beats designed to turn the concert into a party as swiftly as possible.

This raucous vibe changed when TWINKIDS took the stage. Instead of partying, concertgoers paid rapt attention to the music. Such is the charisma of the duo; they can entrance a room full of college students at a Friday night house concert without relying heavily on beat drops and other dance music tropes. Indeed, the atmosphere during TWINKIDS’ performance felt unlike that of a standard house show. Their last song that night, a hauntingly beautiful cover of Björk’s “Unravel,” was played to a near-silent crowd similar to the sort of audience one might find at a classical recital.

TWINKIDS’ performance on Friday was not perfect. There were some voice cracks, a few missed notes and one or two moments when Young and Fukui did not mesh musically. But these mistakes did not detract significantly from the performance. Instead, they reinforced the fact that TWINKIDS’ remarkable sound has resulted from an excess of challenging, creative ideas.