Thinguma*jigSaw are a self-proclaimed ?splatter-folk? duo hailing from Norway who now reside in Ireland. They call themselves Little Myth Ephiphanymph and the Severed Headmaster, but are really named Martha Redivivus and Seth Horatio Bunrombe, respectively. With their invented style, they combine elements of folk and avante garde music with horror movie sensibilities. On their debut for the Deserted Village label, they manage to hit all of the right notes and perfectly sum up splatter-folk for the casual listener. By combining an amazing pop sensibility with just the right amount of weirdness and unconventionality, Thinguma*jigSaw makes listening to ?Awakeinwhitechapel? an experience not soon forgotten.
The key elements on the album are banjo, saw, and flute with ethereal vocals to top them off. There is a barebones, lo-fi quality to the music, yet the group creatively arranges itself to make the most of its various parts. Even songs with only banjo and flute, for instance, sound surprisingly full-bodied, powerful, and complex. Throughout the album, there is a deep sense of melancholy that is both highlighted and enhanced by the amazing arrangements and careful use of sound.
Musically, the group pays homage to everyone from Daniel Johnston to Philip Glass. Most obviously, they offer a cover of Johnston?s song ?Walking the Cow? and an arpeggio-filled, flute and banjo Glass tribute called ?thinguma*qatsi.? Elsewhere, in other tracks, echoes of Johnston?s fractured pop and Glass?s dynamic compositions can be heard, yet never compromise the duo?s originality. One of their best tracks is the mostly instrumental piece ?a solid severance,? which beautifully combines banjo, both plucked and bowed, with eerie wordless singing and background effects. Another great display of the group?s skill is ?(awakeinwhitechapel) pt. 1 - redlightcockfight,? which is a menacing and tense piece with a mix of banjo, flute, saw, and deep background bass from a tone generator.
On top of all this, the lyrics bring an amazing layer of sinister humor and horror to the table. Basing their album on Jack the Ripper, the duo?s songs range from funny to downright scary. A great example of their lighter side comes on ?jumping jock flesh,? which is coincidentally about the best Rolling Stones homage in recent memory. On this track, the Severed Headmaster sings, ?you?ve popped your naughty nimbus / your spine, your soul, etcetera / your clumsy cunnilingus launched a glandslam brouhaha.? Conversely, the band offers up some dark poetry on the song ?(awakeinwhitechapel) pt. 4 - waltzofdeath? with the chilling line ?I know you?re frightened / but you?ll be enlightened / before this night is through / you?ll bleed on linen / but you?ll be free from sinnin? / I?ll eat your sins for you.?
?Awakeinwhitechapel? is an instantly striking album that grows even stronger with each listen. Reoccurring themes and ideas pop up across the album and with each trip through, the master plan becomes all the more apparent. Yet, even as the music grows more familiar, it does not lose its dark and mysterious feeling. Thinguma*jigSaw?s splatter-folk never fails to be surprising, plain and simple. Beg, borrow, or steal if you have to, but just make sure to get your hands on this amazing album. 10/10 -- Matt Blackall (14 November, 2007)