Tartar Lamb
Polyimage of Known Exits


4.0
excellent

Review

by Eli EMERITUS
February 3rd, 2011 | 33 replies | 9,888 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not only did Toby Driver create a triumphant follow up to "Sixty Metonymies," but also a love letter to his fans everywhere...

This week my area was hit with a massive snowstorm, with blizzard like conditions and freezing rain crippling travel, and knocking out electricity all across the city. The next morning, wind strewn branches littered the ground, and trees, with their mangled limbs coated in lucid, crystalline ice, stretched out in every direction. Yet despite the chaos and uncertainty that was the terrifying event, the aftermath made such a tortuously beautiful scene. Like the storm, Tartar Lamb’s second album, Tartar Lamb II: Polyimage of Known Exits captures the tempestuous, disorganized elegance, even though at its core lies a deep seeded, formless darkness.

The feelings and moods mentioned above are not unlike those found on the project’s previous release, Sixty Metonymies. Because of its capricious, unrestrained, and uncondensed nature, the album seemingly dissolved out of thin air, or rather, straight from the mind of Toby Driver. Driver, of Kayo Dot and maudlin of the Well fame, created Tartar Lamb as a method of releasing his long form violin/guitar duet, “Sixty Metonymies.” Although the project fulfilled its purpose, Driver expressed his hopes to release more material under the moniker, Tartar Lamb.

With the help of some incredibly generous fans, Driver has created the follow up he‘s been hinting at for some time now, and one worthy of standing tall next to much of his previous works. Polyimage of Known Exits follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, but mixes up the formula a bit, carving out its own niche. The most obvious alteration is its buffeting of the minimalism, and adoption of a more fleshed out sound. Now, that isn’t to say this album is chock full of bombast and flair, but Driver has beefed up the number of instruments, influences, and styles, making this album feel much more full. It’s a pretty interesting sound to say the least, especially when things start to get more morose and dark. In that respect, it’s somewhat in the vein of Kayo Dot’s more recent releases, Blue Lambency Downward and Coyote. Also like those works, it scoffs off traditional song structure, and features more rhythm and brass, as opposed to strings and piano.

Yet despite the changes that have been made, Polyimage… is lacking something vital, something that gave its predecessor so much character and poise: Mia Matsumyia. Mia, the violinist, and other half to Toby Driver’s violin/guitar duet is strangely absent here, being tagged as a mere “Guest Musician.” She makes an appearance in the fourth track, but other than that, she’s been completely removed from the picture. Her emotive, expressive delivery has been a staple of Driver’s work for the past few releases, and when you take into account how much she added to Sixty Metonymies, the void left becomes much more apparent.

Regardless of whomever is absent, the album still works, and damn well at that. The same format has been retained, with Polyimage… being split into four tracks, with each being a “movement” of a larger whole. However, Polyimage… feels more complete; like an actual fully realized song separated by four distinct yet completely related pieces. The ebb and flow of each track is seamless, and from a songwriting stand point, everything is wonderfully solid and cohesive.

The album starts off with “1st Movement.” The track is the most sinister and ominous of the four, with strange, creature-like sounds clicking and clawing at the very outset. A solemn woodwind segment leads into some very distorted and murky singing, courtesy of Driver. The brass enters in, and the mixture becomes a phantasmagorical clamoring of synths and convoluted instrumentals. The same feeling featured here--the twisted, uneasy feeling--lessens as the album progresses. “2nd Movement” sounds much akin to the first movement, opening with distorted vocals and swelling, pulsating brass and electronics. The volume lessens, but the tension still constricts, as the track silently drifts away, only to welcome a tormented saxophone into the fold. This segment is strange, as Daniel Means and Terran Olson manage to contort their instruments into doing things not though possible. It gives the track--and the album as a whole--a very intriguing, but very bizarre sound. After the track dissolves into blended concoction of noises, it quietly drifts into “3rd Movement.” This track is where things begin to shift in atmosphere. It opens with undistorted singing, and subdued instrumentation. The synths and electronics are brought down considerably, and Driver enters in with a somewhat “groovy” guitar. It’s much more different than the two preceding tracks, and paves the way nicely for the final movement.

“4th Movement,” to put it simply, is in a class all its own in respect to the rest of Polyimage…. Retaining everything that was prevalent throughout the album, “4th Movement” adds more melody, rhythm, and overall beauty to the mix, making it an absolute standout. Mia makes her triumphant return, and does an absolutely commendable job, with her sensual, yet tragic sounding violin passage. The same melody featured by her is then picked up by the saxophone and synths, making for a very creative use of two very dissimilar instruments. Mia then takes over again, leading the album to its triumphant finish.

Polyimage of Known Exits is a fairly difficult album to get into; it’s dark and unwelcoming, and unlike a lot of what Driver has done before. There really aren’t any “themes” or “concepts” that underlie the piece either, as all of that is kind of obfuscated for the sake of, what I assume, is self-interpretation. Regardless, the album still manages to be a musical experience, and one which takes what was so great about its predecessor, and adds even more. It’s weird and unconventional, but those who have enjoyed a Toby Driver project before, will truly find something to revel in here.



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user ratings (30)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 3rd 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Sporting my Mia avatar in commemoration of this release!

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2011



15332 Comments


I must have been slacking on reading your reviews because when the f*** did you get 84 of them? You are only 3 behind me!

Also, I am impressed by this review, have a pos. Would I like this?

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

DoubtGin
February 3rd 2011



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yes this rules

crazyblinddude
February 3rd 2011



3389 Comments


Sweet review, once again, man. This album is great.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 3rd 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Haha, thanks.

I've honestly slowed waaaaay down in terms of reviewing. The past few things I've done have been pretty under the radar, and reviews are lucky to stay on the front page for a day, so I kinda snuck some in there while you weren't looking ; )

Idk, have you listened to anything he's done before? That will be sort of a deciding factor.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 3rd 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, I don't think you'd love it, but either way, its a really cool listen. Unlike a lot of stuff out there, and its just an all around interesting album.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 3rd 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I picked the way wrong time to post this, like, 4 people came in right after me haha. Oh well, I still hope people give this a listen, Toby doesn't get much attention around here these days...

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2011



7136 Comments


Great review as always Xeno. Pos.

And yeah, your timing just so happened to be a little bit off - now I'm thinking of stalling from putting out my piece till tomorrow or something. (it would also let your review stick around for longer)

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 3rd 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks, Irving!

Always appreciated : D

Mordecai.
February 4th 2011



8270 Comments


band name is delicious

IAmInsect
February 4th 2011



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good album. i like the last two movements more than the first two.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2011



7136 Comments


Review needs MOAR ATTENTION.

BUMPZ.

pizzamachine
February 4th 2011



12571 Comments


Crap, I nearly missed this review. The album looks cool, I'll check it out.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 4th 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks pizza, yeah, you might enjoy this actually

SowerKraut
February 6th 2011



236 Comments


Okay whats with the heavy metal cover art?

AdenZerda
February 7th 2011



118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Blue Lambency Downing?

AdenZerda
February 8th 2011



118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know what it's supposed to be, it's just weird to see messing up the album title from a Toby Driver fan.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
February 8th 2011



10585 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah my bad, I fixed it. : (

AdenZerda
February 9th 2011



118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Chillax, silentbrotato c|

acorncheese
February 10th 2011



7119 Comments


Really FUCKING wish Toby would get back to making notable music. Years ago I would've called him my favorite musician. You could say he's evolving as a musician and I'm just not mature enough to appreciate it.

OR YOU COULD SAY I REALLY FUCKING WISH TOBY WOULD GET BACK TO MAKING NOTABLE MUSIC.



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