I’m a sucker for slick packaging — Twink’s pink and blue mini-comic-with-CD format tugged at my interest immediately. The book is a 32-page illustrated tale of a bunny and his toy piano, and his musical friends in the forest, and how he fell asleep and it was dark and he was lost and really scared, but a friendly star lit his way to his nice warm bed, the end.
The music? Twenty-five compositions for toy piano, solo and in a variety of collaborations with other instruments. Mike Langlie became obsessed after his first flea market toy piano, and Twink highlights not only the dinky sound, but its strange ability to get along with just about any “real” instrument. There are a lot of electronic rhythms and treatments here, but I’d hesitate to call this a dance album. The opening track, “Hoppity Jones,” is a nice riff which seems to perpetually spiral up and up like a barber pole. “Shy Violet” gives us a trio of toy piano, cello and flute, for a slow, yearning haunting melody. My personal favorite, “Sailing the Frequent Seas,” blends in an optigan and shortwave radio.
Needless to say, Twink isn’t for everyone. The comic/CD style reminds me a bit of James Kochalka Superstar, as does the nebulous age of the target audience, but the music is extraordinary in its inventiveness. Twink is not the first to explore the limits of the toy piano — classical pianist Margaret Leng Tan comes to mind — but his is certainly the most accessible attempt I’ve heard to date.