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TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND

Progressive Electronic • United Kingdom


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Tonto's Expanding Head Band biography
TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND is an innovative project by electronic composers and sound-engineers Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, having an influence on different other references or an diverse artists. The innovation is the instrument itself, "The Original New Timbral Orchestra", which is the first multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizers and still the largest, design print of Malcolm Cecil (who had serious engineering background) and, since Robert Margouleff sold him the ownership, private owner of it and its performance. The project of the entire instrument system started back in '69 or '68 by Margouleff's MoogIIIc and Moog modules, then with New Timbers and modularly transformed, Serge, Oberheims and Arps, polyphonic instruments, finishing mostly in 1970. Recent additions include SEMs and EMS gear, finally to go on digital sequencers Vocoders. The sounds and sensations of its effective instrumentality are considered, up to date, imposible to replicate from newer midis, digitals and samplers.

Malcolm Cecil was awarded one or two times with Grammy for engineering performance, as was also Robert Margouleff.

The duo set on the early 70s with the applauded effor tof "Zero Time" (1971), drewing the style of warmness and musicality, advancing already in the generation. Steve WONDER can be considered the main artist which was influenced, then involved with TONTO on later works ("Music of My Mind"," Talking Book","Innervisions","Jungle Fear"), Cecil and Margouleff being associate producers and programmers. TONTO stopped existing for themselves after a second album, in 1975, "It's About Time", still co-featured or collaborators or a large scale of projects, going onto pop (Quincy JONES, Bobby WOMACK) or white rock (Steve HILLAGE), into the concept's changing (Dave MASON) layers or the notes of improvisation (WEATHER REPORT). The synthesizer system got used in "Phantom Of The Paradise", a film by Brian De Palma.

For the most recent attitude, the duo came bag with an album re-discovering and re-interpreting the "Zero Time" album and passages from "It's About Time" (a great move mainly considering the out of print originals). The modern interest somehow arouses at times, festivals including the repertoire of their music, dedications towards their style, art pieces even full invitations of TONTO performances ("Virtual TONTO live" in August 2006)

In music, TONTO has the indisguisable effect of experimentalism and open "samplitudes"...
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Zero TimeZero Time
Real Gone Music 2013
Audio CD$5.83
$0.79 (used)
Tonto Rides AgainTonto Rides Again
Import
Viceroy Music 1996
Audio CD$4,514.49
$35.00 (used)
Zero TimeZero Time
Prog Temple
Vinyl$35.78
Zero TimeZero Time
Prog Temple 2012
Vinyl$22.50
Zero Time - UK LPZero Time - UK LP
Atlantic
Vinyl$7.00 (used)
zero time LPzero time LP
EMBRYO
Vinyl$15.00 (used)
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TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND discography


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TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.87 | 7 ratings
Zero Time
1971
3.75 | 3 ratings
It's About Time
1974

TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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3.50 | 2 ratings
Tonto Rides Again
1996

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TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND Reviews


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 It's About Time by TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.75 | 3 ratings

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It's About Time
Tonto's Expanding Head Band Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars This one doesn't get the recognition that Zero Time does, mainly because it was never released in the States. TONTO's Expanding Head Band is often thought of invariably as British, actually they're British/American (Robert Margouleff is American). It's About Time, from 1974 was released three years later, this time on Polydor. During that time they worked with Stevie Wonder, in which several albums came out under his belt with their work.

Let's say It's About Time is very much a worthy followup to Zero Time. It's a bit less experimental, so easier to take, but you can still tell it's the same duo with their custom gear. I noticed a certain Michael Cembalo in the credits, yes THAT Michael Sembello who inflicted us in the 1980s with the ever annoying hit "Maniac". Turns out that guy had worked with Stevie Wonder in the 1970s on his classic albums, so it make sense he appears here. It's more of the same nice electronic music, with a spacy vibe. "Nil Desperandum" is the only cut on this album I don't care for, sounds like one of those cheesy Moog recordings. I am most particularly fond of the last five cuts (that make up side two). Particularly "The Boatman" with that nice spacy use of sequencers (apparently their custom made TONTO featured sequencers). Some of the album had an ominous vibe, and here they even include a little ARP String Ensemble. This album was recorded on the beach in Malibu, California. I wondered how they did that without curiosity seekers walking on the beach? Probably it was well supervised. I also noticed some sound of thunder and rain. Was that produced on their synthesizers, or did a storm actually reach Southern California at that time and the TONTO guys had it recorded? Don't know. Their two albums are quite a bit different from what they were doing with Stevie Wonder, as it's much less mainstream, because they weren't expecting or wanting the same mainstream success and record sales that Stevie Wonder had. For progheads, they did later involve themselves with Steve Hllage's Motivation Radio. Apparently a CD that surfaced in1996 called TONTO Rides Again consists of material from both albums, so that's the only way you can hear material on this album on CD. For those who collect LPs, then if you can seek out the LP, it's worth it.

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 Zero Time by TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.87 | 7 ratings

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Zero Time
Tonto's Expanding Head Band Progressive Electronic

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I had actually found a copy of this LP at my nearby Eugene, Oregon record store, and I couldn't believe I found a copy! It was the American pressing on Herbie Mann's Embryo label, which would naturally be the version you'd find here in America. Enough has been said of this British/American duo (Malcolm Cecil is British, Robert Margouleff is American) and their involvement with Steve Wonder on albums like Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, and Fulfillingness First Finale, which were groundbreaking albums, the kind of albums you have to show great respect for even if Stevie Wonder isn't your kind of music. Previously the duo was in a group called Caldera who released one album in 1970 on Kama Sutra called Stabat Mater: A Moog Mass. Caldera broke up, and Cecil and Margouleff continued on as TONTO's Expanding Head Band, TONTO being the custom-made mega-synthesizer known as The Original New Timbral Orchestra, which consisted of modules and parts from Moog, Buchla, ARP and EMS synths. To many listeners, this is though of as groundbreaking at the time, now a dated relic.

"Cybernaut" is a great opening piece, a really catchy piece that I find impossible not to enjoy. "Jetsex" really goes off the deep-end, it's basically a rather experimental piece. "Timewhys" has this nice spacy thing going on, it's a melodic uptempo number. The rest of the album tends to be rather slow and it's this slow paced nature that scares many off. "Aurora", for example, features some really big synth sounds and juicy noise filters, I can't believe how big the synth sounds are here, despite the slow tempo. Try getting that off a Yamaha DX-7. You absolutely cannot (the DX-7 works better with metallic sounds common to the mid 1980s). Even these analog modeling synths like the MicroKorg (which I love, makes great sounds, but nothing like what TONTO could do). "Riversong" sounds like a Moog raga to me, with what sounds like a distant ancestor of AutoTune speaking poetry written by Tama Starr. Actually I believe it was just a voice modified through the synthesizer and could be thought as a prototype vocoder. For some strange reason the next song is called "Tama", it's a slow, spacy song, sounding a bit like something Tomita would do (had this been a classical piece like what Tomita would do, it would pass for something he'd do).

I can understand this album won't be to everyone's liking, but I enjoy it.

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 Zero Time by TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.87 | 7 ratings

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Zero Time
Tonto's Expanding Head Band Progressive Electronic

Review by Dobermensch

3 stars Full of great big fat Moog electronic keyboards from the late 60's, sounding pretty beefy and splodgy.

The last track 'Riversong', sounds astonishingly like parts of Robert Rich's 'Bestiary' album from 2003. In fact much of this album sounds incredibly like 'Aphex Twin' or a softer 'Autechre' - give or take a few bloops and bleeps.

Two minutes into 'Aurora' and I thought I was listening to the electronic parts of ' Apocalypse Now'. Obviously a highly influential album. If not, musicians were ripping this off, left right and centre.

The tunes are pretty straight forward, but are immediately catchy and completely electronic. It was recorded by two fluffy grey haired guys named Margouleff & Malcolm Cecil whom I've never heard of before... and probably never will again...

Suffice to say that this is one very unusual album for it's time, complete with early Moog experimentation and is of historical importance to anyone inclined to electronic music.

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 Zero Time by TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.87 | 7 ratings

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Zero Time
Tonto's Expanding Head Band Progressive Electronic

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars Built by boffins

"Zero time" is more important for its place in prog, and indeed music, history than for the music it actually contains. T.O.N.T.O. stands for The Original New Timbral Orchestra. This is not in fact an orchestra, but the first polyphonic synthesiser. Up until its invention, synthesisers were monophonic, giving the type of sound first heard on tracks such as ELP's "Lucky man". The developers of T.O.N.T.O. were Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, the performers on this album. Hence you can see why I say the music is of secondary importance, it was written by a couple of boffins and without wishing to be unfair, at times it sounds like it!

The album consists of just six tracks spread unevenly over the two side. The three on side one ("Outside") run to around 13 minutes, while side two ("Inside") is over 20 minutes. No other instruments are used other than the synthesiser, which provides the rhythms and the main themes. While the sound effects and unique synthesised atmospheres will these days sound somewhat tame and prosaic, at the time (1971) they were baffling and exciting.

This album really is all about the sounds though. Apart from some processed vocals on "Riversong", it is entirely instrumental, with spacey sounds and slow atmospheric washes dominating throughout.

The album served as an effective marketing tool for the T.O.N.T.O, with many commercial artists using it to distinguish their music soon after. "Zero time" has taken on a legendary status due to the album's rarity in the intervening years. The reality is though that it is an interesting rather than enjoyable album. It will now return to my LP collection to lie undisturbed for another 20 years.

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 Zero Time by TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.87 | 7 ratings

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Zero Time
Tonto's Expanding Head Band Progressive Electronic

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

3 stars One of the must innovative electronic music of its time ! Among the first bands to possess a Moog synthetizer, Tonto's Expanding Head Band offers with Zero Time smooth and relaxing experimental songs, surprisingly melodic by moments. The album alternates very good and weaker passages and venture into a variety of sounscapes.

The record opens with the little cosmic epic Cybernaut. Its efficient slow pulsing rythm and powerful keyboards solos announce future works by Synergy. A mindblowing overture ! In opposite, Jetsex is the most experimental track of the disc, containing mostly strange effects without a true melody. There comes the highlight, Timewhys, displaying a grooving and enchanting space ambiance, very in the vein of Gong's You and Tim Blake's albums, a couple of years before ! The next song, Aurora, is the most peaceful of the album, as if you were in a spaceship drifting slowly into a lost galaxy... to then arrive a myserious place put in music with the improbable and ethereal Riversong, which sounds very mystical and oriental. The disc ends with Tama, a small melancholic but nonetheless enjoyable song.

With their first album, Tonto's Expanding Head Band proves that they are one of the most inventive band ahead of their time. The record predates many electronic gimmicks that will be employed later in the 70s'. Experimentaly composed but quite accessible, Zero Time will make the happiness of ambient and electronic music explorers ! 3,5 stars !

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