Toby Driver
Madonnawhore


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ben Kuettel STAFF
April 15th, 2017 | 115 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Toby Driver opens his mind and heart in Madonnawhore: a stripped down, intimate affair of dreamy compositions to lose yourself in.

When anticipating music that involves Toby Driver’s contributions, there’s no way to predict what you’re in for. From high concept avant-garde metal to chamber music and electronica, his bands Kayo Dot and maudlin of the Well can dabble in seemingly every music style imaginable. When Driver revealed that his next project would be an all-ballads solo album of traditional songwriting, it was still a surprising announcement, despite the absence of a reliable context for what to expect. The background of his past music aided in the mystique of what this new endeavor would take the form of. With over a decade since the release of his first solo album, In the L..L..Library Loft, this feels like a new beginning.

Toby Driver opens his mind and heart for a stripped down, intimate affair of dreamy compositions to lose yourself in. The album’s title refers to the Madonna-whore complex, which Freud had this to say: “Where such men [being those who can only love saintly women while desiring to actually be with someone they see as debased] love they have no desire, and where they desire they cannot love.” Lyrical themes focus on conflicting desires in romantic relationships, among other things as well. The atmospheres of Madonnawhore fittingly exude a sense of femininity and elusiveness in regard to how each piece plays out. Everything is meticulously arranged, while at the same time feeling loose and fleeting. How the broad genre influences function in Kayo Dot could be explained this way, but largely remain where they should be. They are executed very differently for Driver’s solo endeavor.

Madonnawhore is purposefully the most consistent and accessible project Driver has done yet. The album’s mission statement speaks to harnessing more traditional songwriting avenues than Driver’s main bands have explored. While fairly true, this is by no means similar to the kinds of music played on mainstream radio. You’d be fooling yourself to expect short-fused pop hits here. Instead, slow-moving, pensive album opener “The Scarlet Whore/Her Dealings with the Initiate” introduces the listener into the experience. Sparse drumming and a light ambience holding it all together is the backdrop for leisurely guitar chord strumming and airy vocals. This piece doesn’t have the diverse tones and dynamics heard from his previous creations. Madonnawhore is a singular vision, with each track smoothly fluctuating tones throughout. Subtle details will go by on initial listens; this is an album that takes time to reveal its secrets, reveling in muted intricacies. You have to listen closely to the changes that occur, as the compositions are just as much about the space between the sounds as they are about the music itself, especially in “The Deepest Hole” and ghostly “Boys on the Hill.”

The strangest piece on the record, “The Deepest Hole,” plays to strengths of the most minimalistic moments of Kayo Dot wonderfully. It grips the listener with wholly uncanny approaches to melody and rhythm, with staggered guitar playing that lends an odd sense to how it progresses. The track is easily the most unsettling of all six, despite a beautiful bridge section. Most of it feels scattered and uneasy, with the final minute descending into a truly surreal outro. The instruments blend together to lend a kind of vibrating effect to their melodies and tempos, painting a surreal vision beholding thousands of flying creatures resembling butterflies, frantically fluttering their wings in some kind of chaotic unity. Before you know it, the brief outro suddenly ends. The more straightforward “Parsifal” follows “The Deepest Hole,” sounding linear and almost normal in comparison. These two pieces being so different from one another act as a contrasting centerpiece of the album, with lends a singular yet adventurous energy to how Madonnawhore flows.

Reflecting back on the official statement for the press release, this being a traditionally composed record does hold true. However, Toby Driver’s unique songwriting ideas have not been compromised or altered here. There is a restrained, consistent way about how this proceeds through the six movements. The results are mostly void of the kinds of eccentricities and moods that accompany something like a Kayo Dot album. While those also have strong visions, this flourishes in a kind of honesty that has not been so intimately explored by Driver before. His approach to “traditional songwriting” consists of hypnotizing you with dreamy guitars, ambient synths, and plodding drums, the latter usually present to lend the minimum level of composure needed. Sounds don’t usually get too complicated, with the album’s singles “Avignon” and “Craven’s Dawn” having gradual build-ups in intensity of soothing atmospheres. These convalesce together into a stunning display, especially in “Avignon,” before inevitably settling back down and materializing into the next mood the album explores.

Toby Driver molds somewhat customary song structures to his liking, indulging in some beautiful guitar solos, like the bridge of “The Scarlet Whore/Her Dealings with the Initiate” and end of “Craven’s Dawn (courtesy of Ron Varod),” but only at rare, necessary times. Madonnawhore is mainly a record of naked emotion, and the closest thing to a traditional singer-songwriter record we will likely hear from Driver. This project may or may not be a one-off undertaking; anyone familiar with the unpredictable nature of Kayo Dot’s style of choice knows the futility of predicting what the future holds. This should be approached with an open mind and free of expectation. Allow yourself to be absorbed by, and become lost in, Driver’s latest oddity. It plays out like a beautiful, hazy dream, and acts as a strange gaze into a more personal exploration by a musician who thrives on providing the unexpected.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2017


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Out officially on Friday, stream here:



http://www.imposemagazine.com/bytes/new-music/toby-driver-madonnawhore

Digging: Toby Driver - Live at Roulette, March 2017

zaruyache
April 15th 2017


17733 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

your link adds script to the end and doesn't work, for some reason. It adds a less than sign, /, a, equal than sign.

LordePots
April 15th 2017


37834 Comments


ugh that album title

Digging: Kitty - Miami Garden Club

Asdfp277
April 15th 2017


15350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Primadonna whore, yeah

All i ever wanted was the world

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2017


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I keep forgetting that happens a lot with comments on the site zaru, thanks for pointing out.

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2017


14243 Comments


Hell yeah the annual toby driver dick riding review

LordePots
April 15th 2017


37834 Comments


better than your 47 enid dick riding reviews tbh

Sinternet
April 15th 2017


14634 Comments


i thought she was like a virgin

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 15th 2017


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

What do people generally think of his new "mainstream" direction on here?

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2017


14243 Comments


@pots and counting, thank you

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
April 15th 2017


2954 Comments


typo, it's maudlin* of the Well.

GhandhiLion
April 15th 2017


1480 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

since when was slowcore mainstream?

Digging: Dogbowl - Tit! (An Opera)

Asdfp277
April 15th 2017


15350 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

lmao music

KevinGoldfinger
April 16th 2017


56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice review. library loft is his first real solo record, and everyone seems to look over it. that record was made in attempt to get toby's name out there as a composer, even if john zorn was the one who pushed for it

Astral Abortis
Contributing Reviewer
April 16th 2017


2954 Comments


Library Loft isn't his solo record. It was a Kayo Dot record with his name on it because Zorn recommended it. He very much doesn't consider it a real solo album.

KILL
April 16th 2017


80846 Comments


more like toby fiver

cos thats all he's worth

XD

Piglet
April 16th 2017


7328 Comments


i just have dio singing in my head HOLY DRIIIVER

EasterInTheBatcave
April 16th 2017


251 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

OvDeath: Not exactly. According to the official album Bandcamp page:



"The compositions are much more abstract though and were unable to be performed in a live rock club setting by Kayo Dot, and have a bit more of a "modern classical" perspective, hence the nomenclature."

KILL
April 16th 2017


80846 Comments


dio knew rock

toby driver know cock

KILL
April 16th 2017


80846 Comments


"The compositions are much more abstract though and were unable to be performed in a live rock club setting by Kayo Dot, and have a bit more of a "modern classical" perspective, hence the nomenclature."

what the fuck?



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