Nick Millevoi is a guitarist of many masks. Since 2012, he has defied conventional norms on the six-string in his relentless deconstruction of genre. Twilight Time, his third album with Desertion Trio—the group he shares with bassist Johnny DeBlase and drummer Kevin Shea—signals yet another dramatic shift in sound for Millevoi, a direction he gave a taste of on “Numbers Maker,” a groovy cut from last year’s Midtown Tilt that sparkled with its blend of 1960s-pop and spaghetti-western guitar licks.
Inspired by Millevoi’s trips to the beach town of Wildwood, N.J., Twilight Time is an all-covers set, with blissed-out takes on tunes by the likes of exotica pioneer Les Baxter, the Platters, and space-age producer/songwriter Joe Meek. The album, featuring Sun Ra Arkestra singer Tara Middleton and Ron Stabinsky on piano, organ, and Mellotron, is a neon-lit, shapeshifting adventure that gives an avant-garde edge to timeless classics.
The deep-seated chemistry of Millevoi, DeBlase, and Shea is apparent on the wild and bright versions of Baxter’s “Busy Port,” Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk,” and “Lullaby in the Leaves” by Bernice Petkere and Joe Young. But it’s when Middleton lets loose that Twilight Time goes next-level. On the heart- and ear-melting “Twilight Time” and Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity,” her singing proves a godsend, taking center stage while Shea’s dizzying beat assault and Stabinsky’s interstellar organ gloriously swirl around her. On the laidback jaunt “Taboo” (by Al Stillman and Margarita Lecuona), her “oohs” are otherworldly-dreamy, while space is indeed the place on the warped sci-fi “I Hear A New World.” With this frenzied blast of surf, pop, rock, exotica, and noisy out-jazz bursts, Millevoi has captured the sounds, color, and movement of his beloved Wildwood.