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Toby Driver - Ichneumonidae CD (album) cover


Toby Driver



1.64 | 5 ratings

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1 stars 1.5 Stars. An incomplete and unsolvable piece of art.

Ichneumonidae is a album with quite a big backstory. This was a side project from Kayo Dot leader Toby Driver where he wanted to try his hand with a completely different genre to his usual Avant-Prog; writing music for a ballet. He launched a Kickstarter campaign back in 2012 where Toby would compose the music and provide electric guitars, Timba Harris and Russell Greenberg would provide violin and percussion respectively and lastly Michelle Morinaga would create the dance choreography and perform the dance piece. The project was successfully funded and everything seemed to be going well.

The music itself was quickly composed and a teaser of Morinaga's dance was released for the album's third track. But this is where things went badly wrong, the project got delayed month after month until eventually Toby got desperate and released the audio only part of the project to keep the funders happy. But after that there was no progress made and 4 years after the project started the dance part will probably never be released. The problem is that Ichneumonidae, like all ballets, was made to fit and complement the dance choreography and was never designed to be judged on its own merit.

So knowing that Ichneumonidae is currently only a shadow of what it was originally meant to be, how does it sound? Ichneumonidae can best be seen as a hybrid between more abstract classical music and the more introverted avant-soundscapes Toby has come up in the past (think Tata Lamb, Stained Glass EP and the ending of Amaranth the Peddler). In other words this is quiet, slow, detailed but completely without melody or anything found in conventional music. The album is prone to sudden bursts of violin solos or random sound effects, but for the most part drifts along without much features or highlights. There is nothing to distinguish the first two songs at all and it would be impossible to state when the first song ends and the other begins. The only exception being the final track which is a aggressive and focused classical piece, which I see as the best track easily.

There is a 2 min video of dance being matched with either track 1 or 2 of the ballet (I can't tell the difference between the two) to see what the album could have been. In it you see Morinaga slowly twisting and coiling herself with white balloons above her. As someone who does not pay much attention to dance this is quite alien to me, but I can see how this abstract dancing works well with the music and they are definitely strengthened by each other.

To conclude the music itself is worthy of 2 stars. It makes for pleasant background listening and is nice to listen to when I'm in a very introverted kind of mood. But except for the third track there is literally nothing memorable about the album at all. However I'm purposely going to be harsh and give it 1 star. The reason being not only is Ichneumonidae an incomplete artistic expression, but a failure to the Kickstarter funders who paid for a dance film, not a mini-album. We cannot know if Toby is to blame for not committing the time for the project to come about, or if it was Morinaga who never finished her choreography. In the end it does not matter, as a failure to communicate to the funders has left this project into apparently permanent limbo. Ichneumonidae is both an artistic and PR black mark on everyone who was involved in the project and for that reason deserves 1 star. Should the film ever be released I will reassess my current rating, but until that happens it will permanently be 1 star.

LakeGlade12 | 1/5 |


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