Tartar Lamb
Sixty Metonymies



by pixiesfanyo USER (118 Reviews)
May 24th, 2007 | 25 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A lesson in the experimental and minimal from Kayo Dot front man.

Toby Driver in the past two years has been quite the prolific artist. Releasing his debut solo album, a collection of intensely precise and planned compositions, in late 2005 on Tzadik was his first attempt to distance himself from the extremely epic release "Choirs of the Eye" that had made his band Kayo Dot a critical and underground favorite. Kayo Dot also released their second LP in early 2006; "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" was an experiment in the subtle and drawn out. Sure, "Choir"'s strong emotional crescendos were present in "Dowsing", but gone were their epic conclusions. These spots were instead replaced with explosions of noise or ten minutes of drifting guitar work. As Toby himself stated, he felt "Choirs of the Eye" was perfection in what it had attempted to do, so instead of following what most "metal" bands would've done and staying put in his popular musical formula, Toby tried to do something different.

With the release of "Sixty Metonymies", Toby has finally reached the full sound he has been hinting at since his solo release almost two years ago. A sonically sparse and repetitive listen that is referred to by its own composer as a composition built "in such a way that each figure can be heard as metonymical to each other", "Sixty Metonymies" is a dizzying recording that cycles through such a vast cycle of arrangements in such a short time that it'll certainly leave the listener bewildered upon first listen. Certainly Toby's other projects have also had this stigma attached to them, but moments like the intense full band explosion in "The Manifold Curiosity" left the listener some memorable or familiar portion of the song to latch on to on further listen. "Sixty Metonymies" is devoid of these trigger moments and almost completely removed from vocal performance. To describe it as "catchy" would be the overstatement of the decade.

On this recording Toby and Mia Matsumiya's excellent performance is accented by "extended percussionist" Andrew Greenwald and horn player Tim Byrnes of the group Friendly Bears. Greenwald's style of percussion is a fantastic addiction to the bizarre composition of "60 Metonymies". Rarely relying on the traditional, his implication of various objects such as stray metals flavors the more "compositional" parts of the piece with an urgency of modernism. While Greenwald's performance is one of a kind, trumpet player Byrnes is seemingly invoking the kind of playing that was a staple on Kayo Dot's "Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue" It gives the trumpet performance a sort of "we've already heard this" feel and while it isn't necessarily distracting it is somewhat disappointing. Toby's guitar playing is mostly focused on seemingly replicating a piano but his subtle implication of selected chord phrasing gives the piece a more varied feel. Toby is able to prolong an otherwise excessive repetitiveness by always casually advancing into more beautiful and interesting melodies. Mia finally seems to expose her prowess as the group's most experienced player. Her usage of various extended techniques is at the same time virtuous and restrained. Tartar Lamb once again shows her as a key player in any setting, not unlike say a musician like Eric Dolphy who even in his performances of other's works added so much to the playing that without him or her in Mia's case the piece would fall apart. Finally, while Toby's vocal performance is not featured very often when he does add slight breathing, whistling or the final monologue it is a breath of fresh almost childish air.

"60 Metonymies" is yet another emotionally and compositionally brilliant addition to Toby Driver's resume. It is obvious that Toby has mastered his own vision of minimalism with this record and it'll be interesting to see where he goes next. Conquering one's perception of the both the entirely bombastic and entirely reserved is not an easy task but one has to question where Toby will go from here. Kayo Pop? I'm sure like many of his gracious fan base, the next release associated with one of the most interesting composers of our time will not only challenge my sense of music but Toby's own. And that is where Tartar Lamb succeeds, they are not saturated in the idea of pleasing fans but instead just themselves. On the way to record this album Tartar Lamb performed a variety of shows across the north half of the U.S. I was lucky enough to persuade them to come to my home town of State College, Pennsylvania and after the performance Toby, Mia and I listened to an unmastered copy of "60 Metonymies". Where most artists would've grown bored or unimpressed with a piece they'd been working of for two years, Toby and Mia seemed just as fascinated with the recording as me. Pointing out subtle percussion parts, discussing each others' techniques, and even joking about the conclusion, it was obvious that the same devoted and massively appreciative fan base of Toby Driver is such because it reflects his same feelings towards his music. Few artists' work resonates in me the way Toby's does and Tartar Lamb is no different; emotional, interesting, and original.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 24th 2007


This review makes me feel guilty for needing the crescendos so bad. Despite whatever artistic aspirations Driver may have, have you ever considered that maybe the shift towards a more minimal setup is the difficulty Toby surely has in dealing with so many other instrumentalists on his full Kayo Dot compositions. It's tough for independent musicians to survive and it seems like Toby is running the show, creating disincentive for any accompaniest who wants a primary creative role. I dunno. The minimalism is good and all but why not the fuller orchestration again?

May 24th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I think some involved stuff will be on the next Kayo release.This Message Edited On 05.24.07

May 24th 2007


This review makes me want this even more, and it makes me hate living in Australia where Toby will never tour. I'm really looking forward to this.

May 24th 2007


This sounds good.

May 24th 2007


I need both this and Toby's solo effort. I think I'll be picking up his solo album first.

May 24th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

I don't buy it.

May 25th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

So this is really good. Mia's playing is excellent. She's such an awesome person as well.

edit: Dfel, I'm pretty sure that exact reason is why they put it out under a different name, it's not Kayo Dot. My guess is that when they'll work on new material for KD they'll take that approach.This Message Edited On 05.25.07This Message Edited On 05.25.07

June 1st 2007


I ordered this on Thursday and I can't wait for it to come.

June 2nd 2007


Good review as always, I think I'll pick this up.
As in pick up I mean dowloading it.

June 12th 2007


its good

September 10th 2007


Album Rating: 5.0

After de-constructing and re-listening to this album many times over, I can safely say that this is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard.

September 10th 2007


People should buy this. I think they'll still be running at a loss even if they sell every copy of this.

September 10th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

Definitely. I'm going to pick up choirs, this, and toby driver's solo project off their mail order soon. The packaging for this looks pretty kick asms. I've already heard all of it though and love it.

November 14th 2007


it's just good, the first song ist really good, but the rest can't compete the Kayo Dot Stuff like Amaranth The Peddler and Immortelle and Paper Caravelle. there's something missing in tartar lambs music, except the first song with it's classy guitar note.

November 14th 2007


WTF? Double PostThis Message Edited On 01.29.08

November 14th 2007


What's going on? prob with the browser, somebody maybe delete this one and the post above.This Message Edited On 01.29.08

December 15th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Not done listening to this, but it's beautiful so far.

January 4th 2009


ahh this is driving me nuts. first time through and i feel like giving it a 2.5. i just didn't enjoy listening to it. it was like some of the songs in the first half of blue lambecy, it was like a chore to listen to..

well i'll listen to it a couple more times through the week and see where i'm at then.

June 28th 2013


GUYS KAYO DOT IS 3/4ths of the way to having enough money able to release the NEW ALBUM ACCORDING TO TOBY'S FB, ORDER SO THEY CAN RELEASE THE AOTY SOONER. ACCORDIN TO THE TEASER ITS THE MOST METALY THING HE's MADE SINCE BATH/LYBM. MORE METALY THEN CHOIRS: http://kayodot.bigcartel.com/ Going to spam on every Toby Driver related page.

September 24th 2013


Wow first real comment in about 4 years and not even a second thread page for this album, damn sput's forgetting some good shit right here

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