Toby Driver (of Kayo Dot)
TOBY DRIVER is best known as the frontman and bandleader of the prolific experimental band, Kayo Dot (ex-maudlin of the Well). In the past two decades, he has masterfully explored the limitlessness of music, from weird metal to beautiful post-rock, from austere ballads to tripped-out 70s fusion and beyond. He has worked with a number of forward-thinking luminaries including Trey Spruance (Secret Chiefs 3), John Zorn, G. Stuart Dahlquist (Burning Witch, Asva), Jeremiah Cymerman, Mario Diaz de Leon, Gyan Riley, and many more, and his music appeared as part of Peter Hopkins Miller's installation, Stained Glass, in the 2017 edition of the Venice Biennale. Throughout his many projects: maudlin of the Well, Vaura (with Kevin Hufnagel (from Gorguts)), Stern (with Chuck Stern from Time of Orchids), The Tanks (with Ches Smith and Brandon Seabrook), Clefter (with Gyan Riley and Timba Harris (from Secret Chiefs 3)), Tartar Lamb, free-improv trio Bloodmist (with Jeremiah Cymerman and Mario Diaz de Leon), his solo works, and most of all Kayo Dot, Driver's adventurousness shines brightly. Whereas most musicians attach an identity to themselves in terms of scene or style, Driver's music is the sound of the abandonment of identity, and the refusal to answer the question "Who are you?" Paradoxically, perhaps his defining characteristic as a composer and musician is this fearlessness of looking into the unknown.
As a solo performer, on guitar, keyboard, and voice, Driver has been exploring dark, austere neofolk akin to Grouper, Talk Talk, Current 93, and others, with a subtle progressive and unsettling edge.
Reduction Plan's music comes from within solitude's frigid embrace. "I will
never get what I want," broods frontman Daniel Manning on self-released debut,
Paradise. The heavily reverberated breaths and ominous atmosphere that open
Reduction Plan's latest full-length album, Somewhere, evoke that same sense of
solitude, one that is almost palpable.
Pulling from 80s goth, 90s shoegaze and industrial, and the anti-folk tendencies
of acts like Grouper and Mount Eerie, Reduction Plan uses both noise and
space to illustrate the power of silence. A swell of synths, pulsing drum
machines, and haunting murmurs is the foundation upon which the project
draws its sound.
With Somewhere, Manning takes a leap forward in both songwriting and
production. Recorded and mixed entirely independently, the record’s 10 tracks
are more fleshed out than anything the project has released to date. A testament
to this is “On Your Own”, a re-recorded and re-worked version of a track that
initially appeared on Reduction Plan’s debut, Paradise. Side-A closer “Julia” is
driven by waves of synths that would feel right at home on a Disintegration cut,
pushing the song to a powerful climax. Meanwhile, opener “Without An End” is a
cacophonous goth-rock anthem built upon an intoxicating drum-machine
Somewhere is Manning’s third full-length under the Reduction Plan moniker,
following the Child of Light EP, which saw him branching out stylistically to
collaborate with fellow musicians. On the project’s first two full-lengths, 2015’s
Paradise and 2016’s Shade, Manning’s compositions were frigid, harsh, and
unrelenting. Here, the songs let the light in; blossoming into lush, melancholic
pieces that maintain the bite of the project’s roots.
The majority of the record was written shortly after Manning graduated from
college, and deals with all the feelings of displacement, discontent, and
dissatisfaction that followed. Somewhere represents a seemingly intangible
sense of comfort and belonging that Manning searches for throughout the
album’s brooding tracks.
Although a solo endeavor in concept, Manning is accompanied live by Luis
Durango, who breathes new energy into the songs on second-guitar and synth.
Together, the two have shared the stage with acts such as Xiu Xiu, Boyharsher,
Planning For Burial, Torres.
Boston based band Limousine forms in the wake of former Massachusetts projects. With a combination of dark thumping drum machines and atmospheric synthesizers; vocalist Cameron Moretti provides intimate words and welcomes the listener into songs of pain, lost love, and fear. Somehow Limousine comes across hopeful in these songs of sadness.