It’s been a long time since I put together a T-toe album. My last was written in 2011 when I was living in London, and encapsulates my mostly negative feelings about living there. The city was a terrible place for me to live.
Since moving to Bristol a few years ago I felt a reawakening in my musical passions, and promptly joined two bands; Jilk – a project created by my good friend Jon, which has developed from a solo laptop affair to a full blown band (I play trombone and vibraphone); and Domestic Sound Cupboard (DSC) – an improv band featuring an array of both acoustic and electronic instruments with live audio sampling and manipulation. Aside from more academic musical ensembles of my youth, this was the first time I had been a member of a band, per se, and I’ve really enjoyed the collaborative spirit. I’ve learnt how others approach music, how their background and influence has had an effect on their method, and how I can implement new skills into my own music making.
Both projects have kept me very busy over the years, as have the day-jobs. As a result, sadly T-toe fell by the wayside for a while, save for the odd remix and live show.
The Bristol scene is not overrated. Through gigging over the years - whether as T-toe, Jilk or DSC – I have been blessed to have made friends with a huge number of incredibly creative and passionate musicians, and this collection of tracks pays homage to that. Every track, bar one (‘Chronix’), is a collaborative piece featuring an individual whose work has inspired and captivated me since our meeting. I had previously been quite controlling and protective of my creative process, perhaps through fear of exposing all my terrible production habits and bad practice!
Each of these tracks was written in a different way. With some, I sent over a near finished backing track for the performer to add their element. With others, I was supplied with a base element I constructed a piece of music around those ideas. As I often find with my music composition, it’s difficult to define the style, being as they are inspired by so many genres. But I hope that I have created a coherent and enjoyable piece of work.
Fornax ft. Harry “Iceman” Furniss
I met Harry through DSC. He plays cornet and had joined the band a few months before me. It doesn’t take long to spot that Jazz features prominently in Harry’s record collection. What also becomes quickly apparent when you watch Harry play is quite how engrossed he is in his instrument? He’s statuesque as he plays, motionless apart from his fingers, which are ever-moving even when his instrument is silent, as if he has more ideas than he has breath.
Harry front his own project ‘The Iceman Furniss Quintet’: “Fronted by Harry Furniss nicknamed Iceman, a cornet player who is forging ahead with some of the most musically interesting musicians in Bristol to produce fully improvised, uncompromising and soulful punk art jazz.”
Try Again ft. Mike Dennis
I met Mike at The Canteen in Bristol. Jilk were supporting him on the bill. I was blown away by his set. I was great to meet another classically trained musician who’d turned to alternative “pop” and combines his instrument with the same nods to hip hop and UK rave culture; just as I have been doing. Since meeting, we’ve performed on the same bill a number of times, he as Mike Dennis and me as T-toe; it just seems to work. So it was inevitable that we would collaborate before too long!
Mike Dennis performs regularly as a solo act. He also hosts the Open Mike nights at Bristol’s Grain Barge as well as hosting a monthly night at the Full Moon in Cardiff.
“Mike Dennis is a classically-trained violinist whose boyhood love of Run DMC, Beastie Boys and Gangstarr led him to create a unique kind of string-heavy hip hop music he half-seriously refers to as Violinica. “
Wilder St. ft. Nick Janaway
I met Nick at The Croft in Bristol, before it became The Crofters Rights. Jilk were supporting his project called Solarference (also with Sarah Owen), or was it the other way around? It was a disappointing turn out that night, sadly. But it did mean that I got to see Solarference perform for the first time and make a new connection in the music scene. Since that time, Nick has become a fellow member of Domestic Sound Cupboard. As well as being an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, much of Nick’s work revolves around his self-made audio manipulation patch built in Max MSP. This is what he used in order to create the samples from which this piece was built around. I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the band record their forthcoming album live onstage at The Cube in Bristol.
“Solarference perform a captivating and unique blend of traditional folk song and live electronics. Using their voices, laptops, and a collection of sound toys, they create fresh settings for a rich selection of traditional songs. The results are warm, percussive and atmoshperic, with an intense live energy.”
Rosalind ft. Ed Dowie
I met Ed at The Golden Lion in Bristol at one of Nuala Honan’s “Lion’s Den” nights. She had scheduled me to perform as T-toe to support Ed Dowie, whose Soundcloud page she had stumbled across. I could tell immediately that Ed and I were kindred musical spirits as soon as I heard him soundchecking. His unique set-up of an array of homemade instruments and quirky musical toys layered to support his stunning vulnerable and melancholy vocal. Ed lives in London, and I suspect he – like me – is an introvert, which sadly means we’ve not had a great deal of time to get to know each other! But I know if we did, we would like each other’s company very much.
“Ed has been making music since the late 1990s, firstly as one third of Parlophone's Brothers in Sound, then later a solo act under the name Redarthur. After a 5-year hiatus which he spent living in University libraries & music technology labs making strange bleeps, he returned to the music industry to join The Paper Cinema, a puppetry/animation/theatre/music hybrid (that tours both internationally & in Hackney). Now performing and recording under the name Ed Dowie, he makes music which fuses experimental techniques with melodic aspirations,”
Fukushima ft. Tudor Acid
I met Richard (AKA Tudor Acid) many years ago at a club night in Kings Cross, London. I was introduced to him by Kirsti (null+void). He was performing that night and it was my first chance to see him play. I had gone alone to the venue that night so I spent much of the night on the dancefloor. I loved the way Richard had combined fairly traditional western harmony and melody with intricately and precisely programmed acid beats. I didn’t meet Richard again until a good couple of years later having moved to Bristol. Richard was showing me a selection of 303 loops he’d written over Christmas and I asked him if I might be able to use one in a track. He kindly obliged, and we promptly spent an indulgent 45mins recording his acid line being squelched and distorted through his prized 303 and deopfer modular synthesiser.
“Born in the year that Autobahn by Kraftwerk was released, went to school round the corner from Chenies manor, Henry VIII’s country residence which was rumoured to be haunted by Anne Boleyn’s ghost. Home was a stone’s throw from the newly-consructed M25, which itself was home to acid house. This fact itself provided impetus for doing tracks on cheap synthesizers and drum machines after school. Ultimately settling in Bristol, which is a city under a variety of grooves, Tudor Acid was gradually brought to life.”