Toothless is London’s Ed Nash. The name Toothless comes from a Raymond Pettibon drawing. The US artist (infamous amongst the 1980s LA punk scene for his gig posters) drew a tiger biting off a boy’s head with the caption, ‘Even toothless, she can still bite off a boy’s head.” The idea of something being toothless, but still having bite struck Ed as strangely compelling. Nobody expects ‘side projects’ to achieve very much, especially the side project of a bass player (Ed is bassist of Bombay Bicycle Club), and so the name stuck.
To all intents and purposes, Toothless and his debut record has been a creation carefully conceived by its maker. Even the theme of the singles and album artwork, a play on the famous Power of Ten video by Charles and Ray Eames, has its own narrative.
The 1977 film explored the exponential power of ten by zooming skyward, originally focused on two people enjoying a picnic, to interstellar space and back again, right though the couple’s bodies and arriving to the atomic level. It’s a fascinating graphic look at the scale of relationship between our universe and the molecular/atomic and sub-atomic world in which we live. Ed’s take on his artwork loosely follows the film, envisaging each separate piece of art to be a ‘still’ from the film where over the course of the campaign, fans see a world where everything is connected and related, capturing moment and scale.
This attention to detail handed to the artwork can be equally measured across the record too, given as it is to the idea of scale and the passing of time. Mythology and astronomy become staple touchstones in Ed’s lyrics too. Track titles Sisyphus, The Sirens, and Midas Touch focus on the former, whilst The Sun’s Midlife Crisis, Terra, and Charon, the latter.
Despite The Pace of the Passing being very much the mind of one man, Toothless welcomes some friends to assist in finding this vision. Marika Hackman (Palm’s Backside), Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts (The Midas Touch), Bombay collaborator Liz Lawrence (Party For Two), and The Staves (The Sirens) all add vocal flourishes to the respective songs, whilst Bombay Bicycle Club’s vocalist Jack Steadman shares the production duties with Ed himself.
The Pace of the Passing
3. Palm’s Backside (Feat. Marika Hackman)
4. Alright Alright Alright
5. The Midas Touch (Feat. Tom Fleming)
6. Party For Two (Feat. Liz Lawrence)
7. You Thought I Was Your Friend (I Want To Hurt You)
8. The Sun’s Midlife Crisis
9. The Sirens (Feat. The Staves)
28th November @ The Pickle Factory, London (Toothless plays the album in full)