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Toby Driver - They Are The Shield CD (album) cover

THEY ARE THE SHIELD

Toby Driver

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.03 | 66 ratings

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BrufordFreak
5 stars An album of very emotive, beautiful compositions much more in line with Toby's 2009 Maudlin of the Well release, Part the Second. Simple, spacious, violin-dominated soundscapes.

1. "Anamnesis Park" (10:37) opens with violins that remind me of Yes' proverbial concert opener, of Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite." At 2:15 this shifts completely to low end pulses before the violins and synths rejoin--this time in a weave at very high octave ranges. Stunning! Things thin out in the fifth minute for a single violin to soar in a Vaughn Williams type of display over deep, muted bass synth chords. At 5:45 everything shifts into a drum-supported slow, repetitive rhythm pattern, setting up for Toby's vocal entry at 6:40. The violin contributions between vocal verses are awesome and the music really starts to gel powerful with Toby's vocal in the second verse. Amazing first half is brought down to Earth a bit by the shift to the vocal section but then rising up again to great heights till the end. Wonderfully creative and beautiful song! (19.5/20)

2. "Glyph" (8:42) (17.5/20)

3. "470 Nanometers" (5:53) opens up moving along at a pace more compatible with the past two Kayo Dot albums, the double entry of Toby's wispy voice and the violins effectively change that. In the third minute there is some stripping of the sound palette, revealing a cool bare, spaciousness. From here out each of the instruments add very idiosyncratic contributions--as if independent of the song's foundational groove. Interesting! (9/10)

4. "Scaffold of Digital Snow" (6:42) gently played bare-bones electric guitar and violin duet in a rever-bed soundscape over the first 2:25. So gorgeous, so meditative and transportive! Muted organ enters with long-held chords shifting behind the breathy vocals of guest Bridget Bellavia while accompanied by the Steve Jansen-like space drumming of Brian Chase. Wow! What a song! (15/15)

5. "Smoke-Scented Mycelium" (7:38) very close to the Part the Second sound and feel with a little deeper bass pedal-like low end and jazzier drumming. A little too monotonous and drawn out--despite the interesting lyrics, peaceful ambiance, and screeching violin work in the background. (12.5/15)

6. "The Knot" (4:12) piano and keening violin accompany Toby's plaintive vocal. Very mature, sophisticated song for such a bare-bones construction. Toby's all grown up now! Wow! Stunning! (9.5/10)

Total time 43:44

Nice drumming throughout, Brian--kind of the back bone to the album.

Five stars; a masterpiece of progressive rock music and one of the top five Toby Driver albums ever!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |

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