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Toby Driver - In the L..L..Library Loft CD (album) cover

IN THE L..L..LIBRARY LOFT

Toby Driver

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.67 | 25 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Toby Driver: In the L..L..Library Loft [2005]

Rating: 9/10

A hauntingly gorgeous trip into hitherto-unknown dissonant atmospheres - not for the faint of heart.

This first solo album from acclaimed avant-grade composer Toby Driver is a masterpiece of minimalism, ambience, experimentalism, post-modernism, musique-concrete, and I-don't-even-know-what. The term "acquired taste" is a bit of an understatement here. Toby Driver's music certainly isn't known for its accessibility, and this album is no exception. Toby is no stranger to minimalism; almost all of his material over the past few years has been dominated by it. For the most part, though, much of his work in this style hasn't done a whole lot for me (Kayo Dot's Blue Lambency Downward and the two Tartar Lamb releases, to be specific). However, I'm left rather speechless by this solo effort. In the L..L..Library Loft is an unrelentingly dark journey into some sort of avant-garde nightmare. Unlike many artists who try to be "dark", the blackness of this album actually feels genuine. Needless to say, this unsettling piece of work is not for everyone.

"Kandu vs. Corky (Horrorca)" opens the album with chimes, quickly leading into horror ambience. Toby performs some quiet vocals, and brass instrumentation adds to the ambience. A percussive section comes in that reminds me of the sound a rubber ball makes when it's bounced on a table. The last six minutes of this track are the most unsettling on the album, and that is saying something. Toby lays down some absolutely deranged, tortured moans and screams over the top of pulsating crescendos. This is insane stuff. "The Lugubrious Library Loft" begins with some quiet vocals that build into a feedback-heavy storm. Strings add to the craziness. This is the only piece of the album that references Toby's metal roots at all. "Brown Light Upon Us" is a seventeen-minute dark ambient soundscape. Parts of this piece are nothing less than stunningly gorgeous. This track is pure atmospherics, so I won't try describing it in detail. It's great to listen to in the dark, and parts of it strongly remind me of Tangerine Dream's Zeit. "Eptaceros" continues with more beautiful dark ambience. Toby's understated vocals return and the lyrics are poetically disturbing. This is a beautiful end to a beautiful album.

Dark ambient isn't a genre I have a particular love for, but I can't help being fascinated with this album. To be fair, In the L..L..Library Loft doesn't have the universal appeal that many other of my masterpiece-level albums possess. I'm not always in the mood for an album like this. However, considering what this album is, I can think of very few like it that manage to supersede it. This is quite possibly the greatest album I've ever heard within this genre. This album has a specific goal: to create an atmosphere and evoke a mood. It achieves this goal so remarkably well that it's difficult not to give this a masterpiece rating. A word of warning, though: this is a "you get it or you don't" album. I can't guarantee that this album will evoke the moods within you that it's supposed to. Thus, even though this album is an objectively good album when one looks at it within the context of its genre, its appeal is almost completely subjective. Regardless, if most open-minded music listeners allow In the L..L..Library Loft grow on them, they will at least be able to gain an appreciation for this subtle masterpiece.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |

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