UK band Toy’s new album toy Clear Shot (released October 28th on Heavenly Recordings) is being described as a Beefheart corruption but Toy’s third LP represents the band’s fullest interrogation yet of more local, rain drenched and mushroom speckled Anglo-mystic roots… through Radiophonic Workshop,
Toy released their self-titled debut in 2012 and cemented their reputation as the best alternative rock band in the country with Join the Dots at the end of 2013 Now in the bad half of their twenties, they’ve had a personnel switch and grown up. The headlong motorik rush has been exploded to reveal gem-like shards of synthesizer symphonic and heart-bursting vocal harmony. These have been glued into strange and wonderful shapes by lilting 3 and 6/8 time signatures provided by drummer Charlie Salvidge. As is signalled deftly at the midpoint of its eponymous opener, Clear Shot marks a fracturing and a change of pace; transit conditions in their lives have fostered the best music they’ve ever made.
The band have taken inspiration from favourite bygone groups and bunkered down together. In a makeshift studio at guitarist Dominic O’Dair’s flat in Walthamstow, they laid out the first Clear Shot demos, splitting their time between there and a place in New Cross that singer Tom Dougall and bassist Maxim Barron had moved into. The sprawling, old house also contained Max Oscarnold of The Proper Ornaments, who they’d got to know through touring together, and his piano and acoustic, Byrds-leaning sensibilities bled into communion with TOY’s guitars and synths. At Dom’s, in something of an homage to the experiments of the Manson Family, early Disney and Bowie’s Beckenham Arts Lab, they routed cables through each room to a bank of recording equipment. They’d been reading a lot and going out slightly less, and it had enabled some fertile experimentation.
“One of the books we all swapped around was Electric Eden by Rob Young
“Another book we were reading was Wreckers of Civilisation: The Story of COUM Transmissions,” says O’Dair, “I think their story has been an influence and is almost a continuation from the folk thing. The Death Factory where they lived is in Hackney.” The group, having grown up in sunny semi-utopian Brighton, have all lived in London for quite a long time and by now relate easily to the concept of Industrial Music and that experiment where all the lab rats ate each other.
This free thinking Ken Kesey stuff was going on when they weren’t gorging on film noir. The scores of Bernard Herrmann, John Barry and Ennio Morricone have seeped in just as much as the cannon of well-regarded UK avant freaks, and the tone of the record is acknowledged on its sweeping seven minute closer ‘Cinema’. Just as elsewhere a sense of epic spectacular confronts a keen intimacy. This feeling is helped no end by Chris Coady (Beach House, S
Recent outings between the alternating demands of tour van and studio have given slight nods to this expansive new direction. Prominently, there was the Sexwitch project with Natasha Kahn (Bat for
Teaser ‘Fast Silver,’ is a shoogle-y darked-out affair, it’s reminiscent of the best night driving music, that bends between cavernous minor and warmly radiating major sections. There’s an instrumental bridge that sounds like Amon Tobin and a middle 8 that sounds like The Stranglers’ Dionne Warwick
– Edgar Smith
I’m Still Believing
Clouds That Cover The Sun
We Will Disperse
Spirits Don’t Lie