Record Review - 1 July 31 2003

Twittering Machine's official full-length debut, Breakfast by the Dunes, arrives with tragic beauty and a timeless sensibility. Those familiar with the group's sound will applaud the lush string arrangements, subtle drumming and Beth Moon's heartrending voice seeping through crystalline production qualities. What's most striking, though, is the alluring presence the music embodies. Swirling melodies that linger between melancholy and bursts of wide-eyed pop tones create an air of pensive mystery, reminiscent of impressionist paintings like Monet's "Waterlilies" or Van Gogh's "Starry Night."

"Birds," "Mundo Hilario" and "Rapt and Rising" possess a surreal elegance that could just as easily set the mood for a sultry cabaret club in 1920s Berlin — or a smoky dive in East Atlanta in 2003. Other songs like "A Photo or An Airplane," "Green Apple Sea" and "You Will Have Everything" flow with the breezy air of a romantic comedy.

But it is "Learn To Steal" that embraces all of the elements and passion of the group's sound, churning out an undulating epic piece that highlights each of the player's talents. A slow, swaying accordion clears the way for a rhythmic swell of voices, strings and percussion to reach a glowing crescendo before marching triumphantly home.

Parting is such sweet sorrow, and the sad postscript of "Bones At My Feet" brings closure to this heartbreaking first outing.

Twittering Machine plays the Earl Fri., Aug. 1. $5.