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Prog Folk • Israel

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Mr. Toad biography
MR TOAD hails from that middle eastern progressive hotbed of Israel. Their story goes back to 1998 when, as a duo named KATROSS, Maor Arbitman and Shimry Mesica performed folk oriented original material reminiscent of early FAIRPORT CONVENTION. However, with the arrival of flautist Dana Eizen, the group incorporated more baroque influences such as early KING CRIMSON and RENAISSANCE, still with an underlying folk-jazz flavor.

Their first and, to date, sole album is called Trench Art and was released on MIO records in 2003. It is a short but rich accomplishment with combines the aforementioned influences and a variety of others like NICK DRAKE and DAVID SYLVIAN into a singular chamber prog signature.

While the group has not produced a follow up, the spare myspace page contains as yet unreleased songs in a similar vein, and indicates that they are unsigned as of this writing (Oct 2010). Dana also plays in a CAMEL tribute band called THE HUMPS.

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3.93 | 10 ratings
Trench Art

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MR. TOAD Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Trench Art by MR. TOAD album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.93 | 10 ratings

Trench Art
Mr. Toad Prog Folk

Review by kenethlevine
Special Collaborator Prog-Folk Team

4 stars We progressive rock elitists, if I can allow myself to be redundant, prefer music which isn't. We get ruffled when a song stays in the same time signature for more than a half minute, when a song carries even a whiff of verse-chorus structure, or when an album devotes itself to setting and retaining a mood, especially when that mood is consistently bucolic and caressing. Personally I don't have a problems with any of these "transgressions" which allows me to appreciate this sole release of MR TOAD all the more.

While "Trench Art" incorporates myriad influences including Court and Islands era KING CRIMSON, PENTANGLE, NICK DRAKE, early STRAWBS, DAVID SYLVIAN, HOELDERLIN, and some Canterbury, it draws mostly on the more mellow work of these artists, and the overall effect is that of an original and engaging achievement of mostly instrumental chamber progressive folk.

The members are all highly talented musicians boasting prowess on flutes, strings, and guitars. It is particularly on the lengthy opener "Queen of Hearts" that we hear their more adventurous and almost avant garde aspects. Here the reference would be a bit of "Moonchild" with "Lady of the Dancing Water" and "Islands" thrown in. This is where most progressive fans are likely to be sold on MR TOAD. But, again, apart from an extremely dissonant half minute or so, it might challenge your attention span. I myself have no problems at all, and find it uniformly pleasing.

For the rest, possibly the best track here is the exquisite "Bach's Cat", one of the more imaginative tributes I can recall, including snippets of Bach compositions and even a little of "Green Sleeves". This one recalls early British folk rock, but, as in all cases here, sets its own standards. "Love Tale" piles on the "Cadence and Cascade" axis of KC, down to Michael Giles' nimble percussions impersonated by Tom Dayon and even harp like Frippian plucking by Maor Arbitman. The closing cut is a hypnotic instrumental reminiscent of early HOELDERLIN.

It is rare that a debut album establishes such a consistent yet eclectic vision. Even better, it wins over the listener with understated whimsy, a rarity on any musical level. Trust me, this TOAD is a prince.

Thanks to kenethlevine for the artist addition.

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