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


Toby Driver


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Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Toby Driver takes music to the limits of the mind. He makes ordinary music look like child's play compared to his multi-dimensional compositions. This album is one of the most intense, slow, and atmospheric albums I think I've ever listened to. There are no discernible melodies on any track, and they certainly take their time to reach their endpoint. This isn't a bad thing, but it leads to a lot of slow build ups that could have been done in half the time and a lot of very sparse sections that could have used some more instrumentation. But other than that, this album (which seems to be filled with ideas too wild for Kayo Dot), is a good look into the mind of one of the more creative musicians out there in the world today.

Kandu vs. Corky (Horroca) opens the album with very sparse and has a very slow and dramatic build up, with subtle increases in intensity with little augmentations of guitar and horns. A droning percussion line in the only thing that is truly noticeable throughout most of the song. Towards the 10th minute, dissonant guitars and Driver's screams and shrieks come in and really give the song a more frightening feel. The dissonance and the disjointed feel only increase the spookiness of the album and are hauntingly beautiful at the same time. The then ends with a long fade out that sounds like it could have continued on for another 5 or 6 minutes, but is promptly ended with screeching feedback.

The Lugubrious Library Loft to me is like a horrific version of one of Brian Eno's ambient albums. The song itself is a wonderful piano led piece mixed with bits of various noises and feedback, as well as some very hymnal sounding vocals from Driver. You can hear utter sadness and despair in Driver's voice on this one. Slowly bits and pieces of percussion and out of sync piano notes are added on top of the haunting main line. The song picks up in pace towards the middle as all the percussion, piano, and guitars swirl together to create an aura of mystery. Once the violin and the distorted bass come in the song takes a whole new shape. The song takes final shape with a great guitar melody and subtle use of the rest of the instruments.

Brown Light Upon Us is the longest, and most drawn out, track on the album. Beginning with some sparse snare drumming, it takes the dissonant and atmospheric root very quickly, with pulsating guitar and keyboard bits, as well as simple percussion. The droning and haunting feeling picks up quickly and evolves into more minimalism as the song progresses further. Sadly, though, the song does drag a lot and feels mostly like filler, and could have been done in a much shorter time span. For example, the majority of this song is a simple droning drum beat with a lot of dissonant buzzing and a hollow main melody (if you can call it a melody at all) on top of it. And that's where the main problem with this album lies, in that the songs take too much time to go through the motions and express all they need to express. It seems as if some of the songs just take forever to get the message (albeit, a musical message) across.

Eptaceros ends the album with great strings, piano, and guitar. It's another piece that takes its time to take form and to really make a name for itself, but this is one of those songs that works with that take your time mentality that's on this album. The song itself is a moody piano led tune (with Driver on piano instead of guitar this time around). The violin on this track really comes out of the box and makes the song a bit more atmospheric and mysterious. The vocals start in at the 5th minute, and the windy and desolate feeling of the song then takes final shape. This is one of the better tracks on the album and really ends the album on the same note that the album began, filled with wondrous mystery and an intense and emotional feeling.

Overall, this album is not for the faint of heart. If you thought Kayo Dot's songs were off the wall and out there, you haven't heard anything yet. These songs are quirky, they're haunting, they're emotionally brutal (as Mr. Adair said above), and their incredibly intense. If you can get past some overly drawn out moments and many sections of sparse instrumentation, then you'll find something to like here. Me, I liked this album, it's a bit more out there than what I've listened to in the past, but I'm growing to love music of this type. For me, I'll give the album a 3.5/5.

Report this review (#81158)
Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars The music of tumble dryers and vacuum cleaners

I like to think of myself as open minded when it comes to music. I will willingly listen to any style in an effort to find something about it which appeals to me, and more often than not that effort is rewarded. That does not mean that I like everything I hear, far from it, but there is usually merit to be found if you look hard enough.

Try as I may, I cannot hear anything on this album remotely musical or enjoyable. It is akin to listening to a tumble dryer, literally.

Toby Driver is the driving force behind Kayo Dot. While their music may at times offer a significant degree of challenge, when compared to this his first solo album they are comparable with the Beach Boys. For the first so many minutes, it is hard to even tell that the album has started. The faint monotone may actually be indecipherable on stereo systems of a certain quality, as the inherent hum they produce will be much more obvious than the "music". The sound does eventually build to something audible of course, but in the form of an incoherent, formless jumble. Likewise, "Brown light upon us" takes 18 minutes to deliver absolutely nothing but a totally innocuous hum. Honestly there is more variety in the sound of a vacuum cleaner! In all there are four tracks, all of a similar nature, although the actual noises are different on each.

Now I realise that there is perhaps as much of an art to listening to music such as this as there is to making it. That I believe is where the crux of the matter lies. This is not music at all, it is art. It is abstract soundscapes which will appeal to the enlightened few. To the rest such as myself, it is dull, tedious, and utterly boring.

At the time of writing, the album is available for free download via Toby Driver's website.

Report this review (#95306)
Posted Saturday, October 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Toby Driver's first solo album, containing the puzzling title In The L..L..Library Loft, is quite an interesting affair, to say the very least. Honestly, I'm going to say this up front: if you were one of those unlucky souls that couldn't find much to love in the slow-paced, metal-less 2008 release Blue Lambency Downward (which I personally enjoyed, greatly), and you haven't heard this yet, I earnestly suggest getting it, and soon.

The music is akin to Kayo Dot for sure, but it is typically more experimental, looser, and more based in constructive theory--with obvious roots in a sort of post-modernist avant-classical vein of writing--than most Kayo Dot or maudlin of the Well material. There are only four tracks on the album, but this shouldn't be a huge surprise really, considering that, to date, Kayo Dot only has 18 songs to their name (19 if you include the oh-so-semi-famous Kitty Song) after 3 albums and a split EP, which amounts to an average of 5-6 songs an album (with 1 on the EP).

However, more than ever with material by Toby Driver (exempting Tartar Lamb's debut album, which he also composed), this album is less a series of 4 songs than it is a series of eclectic compositions. Every song is its own experiment--experiments which were obviously deemed a bit too out-there, or perhaps just unrelated, to the experiments Toby tackles within Kayo Dot.

I don't usually do track-by-track reviews, but I think this album warrants it, since each track is so unique, and since I'll be describing the experiments each track undertakes anyway...

Each of the songs has a specific idea in mind, which can be easily identified within the songs themselves. For example, the first track, Kandu vs. Corky (Horrorca), is based around the idea of a bell-curve--bell-sounding instrumentation (lots of odd percussion work--including bells) as well as bell-curved composition; obvious examples being the entire dynamic of the piece, which begins quietly and ominously, before escalating, and then letting off again near the end--and obvious bell-shaped construction. Also, one should take note of the drum work in the song, especially a part played specifically on rims and snares, which begins slowly before rising in tempo, and then falling again--another reflected image of a bell. The whole piece is extremely tense, with Toby bellowing his fiercest guttural croon near the climax--which is quite terrifying.

Which brings me to the whole atmosphere of the album. Unlike Kayo Dot's work, which typically contains downright serene moments, interspersed with bits of madness and chaos, this album follows one basic atmosphere: one of horror and terror. This one's scary, daunting, a wonderful Halloween album I'd say. It is not easy to listen to, I'd say for most people, however it is more than worth listening to.

Every piece is its own experiment, as I've said. The second track, The Lugubrious Library Loft is, according to Toby, based on the need for two persons to perform each instrument. For example, the piano requires a player on the keyboard and a player malleting the strings simultaneously, and so on for each instrument. This song is amazing, in my opinion, as good as a lot of Kayo Dot work. It is a beautiful, coalescing piece of work which builds to an astounding mini-climax, which just blows me away every time I hear it.

Brown Light Upon Us , once again according to Toby himself, tries to use sounds, rhythms, harmonies, etc. that would result in a song that sounded right only when listened to from one room over - in other words, if you heard it in the room it was being played in, it wouldn't sound as good. This is the weakest track on the album for most people, and I'd agree, however, the first ten minutes or so are brilliant, the last few are rather dull and extremely quiet.

Eptaceros is based around some odd horn technique a trumpeter friend of Toby's had been experimenting with, and the song itself is extremely haunting, and very beautiful. The eerie atmosphere comes full circle here, and the album ends on a rather soft note, its last note resounding long after the album is over...

Anyway, that's it. I'm really anticipating another solo album, perhaps containing this mysterious new work Toby's said to have finished (he's supposedly about to perform it with Kayo Dot on this upcoming tour, in August of '08). The bottom line for this one is that is isn't necessarily essential, but it's a definite hit for Kayo Dot fans--especially fans of the band's second album, Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue, which, in my opinion, shares some similar elements with this one.

Though the album falters slightly here and there, the overall result is one of punctual subtlety, with an atmosphere that will stick with you for quite a while, and an experimental edge which turns out to work very well, without being allegedly quirky, or too experimental for its own good (except, perhaps, for the last few moments of Brown Light...).

4 stars, and almost 4.5. It takes time, for sure, but fans of Kayo Dot with patient minds which enjoy challenging music should certainly enjoy this album.

Report this review (#180802)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars People often describe Toby Driver's solo album as a means for him to introduce compositions that are too abstract for Kayo Dot. While I certainly agree that the pieces here would seem foreign on a Kayo Dot album, I must say that instead of being merely oddball tracks, these serve as a creative outlet wholly different than his other bands.

Indeed, many listeners of Driver's other material, specifically motW fans, should be able to safely ignore this work as many will certainly be left cold by it. The material categorizes better as a piece of 20th concert-music than anything in the rock vein. I would go as far to say that it's inclusion on this site should be questioned. Many have been tagging this as "minimalism" and I could not disagree more. The compositions are very spacious. They develop slowly and employ silence and empty space. However, I would not describe these as minimalism. To liken them to composers such as Reich or Part would be a severe mistake. The record finds more companionship amongst the 20th century avant-garde of composers such as Ligeti or Cage.

Darkness pervades the entirety of the album. With the exception of the closer, the songs were written to create feelings of unease and tension in the listener (in this regard their success cannot be questioned.). Unlike the drama and crescendo ridden Kayo Dot, the compositions here remain very flat overall, gentle caressing you with slow ebb rather than an obvious crash. As said before with the exception of "Eptacerous" the intent here is to disturb rather than present anything pleasant. "Eptacerous" changes this (yet somehow fits in with the rest of the album, most likely due to the superb trumpet work) giving the listener a very Kayo Dot like guitar/vocal melody contrasted with a menacing background of cello and trumpet, resulting in some heartbreaking moments of sheer bliss.

A lot of this feels like the soundtrack to a horror movie. You know how the music there seems to exist in two parts. One to distract you and keep your mind occupied while the other part jumps in the startle you when you least expect it. This album must be listened to in the dark for the full effect.

Although not absolutely essential like his other releases, I still must rank this as one of the finer albums of the decade. Many fans tracing their roots to maudlin of the Well may view this as a disappointment, but it should be highly regarded by fans of 20th century composition or avant-garde movements.

Report this review (#257121)
Posted Sunday, December 20, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Sleepwalker
5 stars In the L..L..Library Loft, Toby Driver's first and only solo album up to date, is a mind- wrenching trip through some menacing nightmare. On this album, Toby Driver focuses completely on creating a brooding atmosphere with minimalist compositions, that all take their time to carefully guide you around the horrendous library loft. It leaves you not a second to feel at ease.

No, the album's atmosphere is an incredibly intense one. It revolves about dissonance, tension and madness. This formula makes the album a very useasy listen. That, to me, is what makes this album such a magnificent thing. Most of the compositions begin quietly, but gradually lead to climaxes that make you want to seize your head tighly with your hands and swing it around frantically hoping all this menace will end. Well, I overreacted a bit there, but there are several moments on the album where I do feel a great discomfort indeed.

I will not go into detail with the different compositions on the album, but all of them have a certain uniqueness. This might also have to do something with the very interesting musicianship on here. Toby Driver wanted to experiment with unconventional ways of making music on each of the four compositions. This resulted in for example one piece featuring instruments that were played by two persons at the same time (including vocals) and a piece that was recorded from another room than the one in which it was performed.

Interesting as well is that the album is very different from anything else Toby Driver has done. Again, the structures of the compositions are less dynamic and the album is more minimalist than anything of Kayo Dot or Maudlin of the Well, but also the climaxes, which can be quite heavy at times, are very different. They tend to focus on fear inducing noise and intense dissonance more than the climaxes of Maudlin of the Well and Kayo Dot.

I don't think the dissonant minimalist atmosphere here will appeal many people, simply because it does not have much dynamics. Even compared to a band like Kayo Dot, which gets quite slow at pace at times as well. Nevertheless, those who feel like they can deal with minimalist mind-rape and perhaps are somewhat familiar with Toby Driver's output with other bands won't do any bad by at least giving this a try. My prefered way of listening to this album is after midnight in candlelight, which I suppose enhances the album's intensity.

Report this review (#378672)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
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.

Report this review (#469844)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2011 | Review Permalink

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