180 gr audiophile vinyl pressing.
One of the more persistent controversies concerning Ministry (and there are more than a few) revolves around the band’s earliest output. Jourgensen has adamantly denied any conscious creative input past surface level on the divisive new wave exercise that was With Sympathy, affirming that he discovered more extreme music shortly thereafter and briskly applied this cadre of newfangled influences to the existing template. One can already poke holes in this reasoning, as Jourgensen has on separate occasions lauded Twitch as the debut he always wanted to make. Claiming that most of this material was already written way before With Sympathy, it only serves to obfuscate and inveigle the entire ordeal to the point of active irritation.
Furthermore, there is a demo tape circulating with containing early versions of “Revenge,” “She’s Got a Cause” and the more enigmatic “Same Old Madness.” A music video was actually filmed for the latter, which irrefutably proves that Jourgensen knew what he was getting himself into well before Ministry signed to the Arista imprint. The band persistently released an aggregate of singles in the short period following With Sympathy, and while there were subtle shifts in tonality and structure, some sort of stylistic plateau was reached that Twitch finally managed to breach later on. One of the more interesting examples is the All Day single, which includes the arresting and relatively celebrated “(Everyday Is) Halloween.” A logical progression exists up until that point, and the only song that remains unaccounted for in this regard is “So So Life,” of which only a few grainy live videos exist. And then this happened.
Elucidating what Twitch actually is can best be done with a direct comparison to what came before it. For one, Jourgensen now stands alone in the main lineup, with only a few guest appearances that come off as necessities that I’m sure he would have avoided if possible. His vision is brash and direct here; much darker and introspective than what came before it. Since this is Jourgensen we are talking about, this can be best illustrated with a drug reference. With Sympathy was cocaine; patently ’80s and easy to get appreciably invested in for short durations. That said, a void is felt almost immediately after consumption, and attention is quickly diverted elsewhere. Twitch is most definitely heroin, imposing through casual discourse but always a curiosity draw for curiosity’s sake. The first taste or two may not fascinate much, but before you know it you are past the juncture of self control and drawn wholly in.
Vague abstractions aside, much of this material retains just enough of the earlier, electronic percussive flutter to be considered dance music. Jourgensen exercises layer upon layer of rhythmic counterpoints and keen sampling on the way to a hypnotizing final product. Some numbers like “Where You at Now? / Crash & Burn / Twitch (Version II)” are busier than others in this regard, but the style is persistent and laid the foundation that both Ministry and countless others built a musical genre upon. From this point of view, Twitch holds great value from a historical perspective, but to be candid it fucking holds up for an underground, avant-garde mid-’80s societal departure. For one, Jourgensen’s now-famous counterculture-inclined lyrical zest makes its first earnest appearance here. I am obviously referring to “Over the Shoulder,” during which Al berates our disposable society to great effect. His earlier faux-accent is entirely disposed of here, and naturally little of value is lost in this. Definitely some Skinny Puppy vibes running in and out of the framework on this one.
Variance is an issue, but subtle shifts in the percussive backbone is what really gives Twitch its arresting allure. Some will definitely miss the new wave acrobatics from the earlier material, and one can actually hear the final throes of that style get fizzled up on the intro to “My Possession,” never to be revisited again. Still, just enough of a trace remains to coherently shift the album’s industrially-inclined gearbox. The remix of “All Day” is clearly the most glaring holdover in this regard, and remains an atmospheric highlight in an album full of them. My version contains two additional tracks, and those in the hunt nowadays will likely come across this version first, so they might as well be mentioned. The extended version of “Over the Shoulder” is included, which tacks on an additional full minute of percussion before the track actually starts in earnest. Peculiarly, this was the version chosen for the music video that was filmed, and it runs a smidgen too long for my liking in this regard; I can do without this version of the song on the whole. “Isle of Man (Version II)” stands out primarily concerning Jourgensen’s vocals, which take on a robotic, emphasized drawl that separates the ambiance greatly from the remainder of the record. This one is a winner.
The biggest question that now remains is whether or not Twitch will have any value to Ministry’s modern fanbase. Candidly, It really depends on the listener, but what I do know for sure is that fans of anything between this and (including) Psalm 69 will feel relatively at home here. A great number of the band’s more recent supporters like to act like Ministry’s ’80s output never existed, but this is fatally flawed reasoning on the grounds of Twitch’s landmark innovation. This has absolutely zero value from an isolated metal point of view, but that’s not what it was ever meant to be, Jourgensen continued to build upon this recipe and while he earned great critical acclaim from these ventures, nothing he delivers will ever come close to Twitch concerning the still-evolving chronicle of electronic music. A classic.
A1 Just Like You 5:00
A2 We Believe 5:56
A3 All Day Remix 6:02
A4 The Angel 6:06
B1 Over The Shoulder 5:11
B2 My Possession 5:05
B3.1 Where You At Now? 12:13
B3.2 Crash And Burn
B3.3 Twitch (Version II)