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Toby Driver
Ichneumonidae


3.5
great

Review

by Johnny[Well] STAFF
February 13th, 2020 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2014 | Tracklist


Toby Driver’s discography is widely referenced for its eclecticism and obscurity, yet the amount of attention his albums receive tends to be directly proportional to the extent to which they appropriate metal influences. On this basis, his 2014 release Ichneumonidae is one of the more generally disregarded works in his canon, a half-hour modern classical piece written to accompany a butoh dance piece. I’m broadly unfamiliar with butoh, but the few recorded performances I’ve seen are rooted around a protracted sense of ultra-laboured movement that brought to mind both Brechtian alienation of movements and actions from their naturalistic applications and Theatre of Cruelty-esque contortion. Butoh was apparently conceived after World War II by Japanese dancers who had studied in Germany but wanted to produce a form firmly rooted in their own culture, so take my associations with a strong pinch of salt and do your own research as appropriate.

The key takeaway is that this scope seems entirely cogent to the music here. Ichneumondiae consists primarily of two long pieces developed in an extremely gradual fashion, led by a solo string arrangement and supported by sparse percussion and keys. The term ‘developed’ may bring to mind misleading connotations for those only familiar with Driver’s more immediate works; these pieces do undergo harmonic developments sense alongside a range of permutations in dynamics and tempo, but they are not structured in a way that clearly signposts a progression from a distinct point A to point B. Their tone and structure are cold and reflective in a manner entirely appropriate for the qualities of butoh outlined overhead; each motif is mulled over in an uncompromisingly cyclical fashion as though scrutinising a certain mood through a long series - but not a wide range! - of near-interchangeable iterations, and I can see this as a natural fit for butoh. The final track “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun” is a brief culmination of both the music and, presumably, dance in a violent rejection of the previous tracks’ restraint and reflection, condensing their translucent sense of occasionally uninviting tonality into something at once more challenging harmonically but more exhilarating in its pacing. People on Rateyourmusic have called this album a range of enjoyably unflattering things, and I imagine this piece is a convenient scapegoat as to why. As a conclusion, it’s certainly anything but indecisive.

While it’s hardly as listener-friendly as the likes of Choirs of the Eye, Coffins on Io or They Are The Shield, there’s a lot to enjoy here for anyone on board with Toby Driver and his various projects. The compositions are as firmly imprinted with his style as ever, with their motifs invective of the likes of Dowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue or even Part the Second’s more spangled stretches. For bonus points, I also catch a few phrasings on “Supercrescentus of Eros” that could have come straight off a number of John Zorn albums. “Supercrescentus of Eros” in general is one of Driver’s more underrated tracks, a beautifully winding reflective piece for which reason alone I’d recommend Ichneumondiae to anyone looking to dig further into his discography. The album as a whole remains something of a curio, but its irregular specificities are no reason to pass on it.



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user ratings (31)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 13th 2020


28590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bandcamp: https://kayodot.bandcamp.com/album/ichneumonidae-official-soundtrack

Butoh dance (unrelated to this album): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYTNzcMMTcw

Kinda enjoying doing flash-in-a-pan reviews like this to fill in gaps in the database. Anyone who wants to throw me under the bus for any modern classical/butoh related reasons, plz feel free

Digging: ZOMBIE-CHANG - TAKE ME AWAY FROM TOKYO

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
February 14th 2020


796 Comments


Weirdly unpopular album considering the artist in question. Although predictably I haven't gone out of my way to listen to it yet

"dance in a violent rejection of the previous tracks’ restraint and reflection, condensing their translucent sense of occasionally uninviting tonality into something at once more challenging harmonically but more exhilarating in its pacing."

You are way too good at describing music m'dude. Props

Veldin
February 14th 2020


3982 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review! Very Zorn-esque. Have you heard Toby's new composition, "N.G.H.4.M" ?

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2020


28590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers Milo ol' buddy ol' pal, defo make compromises to your Way if you are able; this is a good listen and better than either of the last two KD albums imo

and no, Veldin my dude, I have not! What should I expect from it?

asanisimasa
February 14th 2020


54 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely an overlooked one. very unique

Gallantin
February 14th 2020


1903 Comments


Are they ever gonna release the movie for this or is it just cancelled

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 14th 2020


28590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There was gonna be a release? Forgot this - dya mean a recording of the dance performance? Knowing Toby atm I'm guessing cancelled, dude probably has enough on his plate

NOTINTHEFACE
February 14th 2020


2040 Comments


Weird that I've never checked this and was only vaguely aware that it existed. I'll have to save this for a rainy day now. Nice review that does a great job of calibrating expectations for this.

JustJoe.
February 14th 2020


9459 Comments


stop writing all these quality reviews

JustJoe.
February 15th 2020


9459 Comments


by that i mean keep writing all these quality reviews

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 15th 2020


28590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Anything for you Mr. JustJoe < 3

And this is just about good enough that it's worth praying for a rainy day

JustJoe.
February 15th 2020


9459 Comments


all that sounds good to me johnny

❤️

Lord(e)Po)))ts
February 16th 2020


58913 Comments


"performances I’ve seen have are rooted"

Otherwise good rev bruh

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2020


28590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heck! Cheers dude, edit button has been pounced on

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2020


18963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, I sort of forgot about this. Gave it another listen and enjoyed a lot. Reminded me of parts of Dowsing Anemone and Tartar Lamb.

Digging: Gazpacho - Fireworker

FadedSun
February 16th 2020


2262 Comments


Don't think I ever listened to this, because I knew it was written with a specific purpose in mind. I didn't want to listen to it out of context.

Deez
February 16th 2020


6716 Comments


I ALSO completely forgot about this record. Will listen tonight. Good review too J

Digging: Hedvig Mollestad Trio - A Stone's Throw

GhandhiLion
February 16th 2020


9405 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm always late to noticing these late reviews.

Digging: Webber and Morris Big Band - Both Are True

AnimalsAsSummit
February 17th 2020


5093 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dowsing Anemone is one of Driver's finest achievements I forgot how good that album was

Digging: Post Millenial Dreams - Una rplica de cosas grandiosas

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2020


28590 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers y'all! Faded, this holds up pretty nicely as a standalone and idk if the dance footage is ever gonna drop :/

"Dowsing Anemone is one of Driver's finest achievements I forgot how good that album was"

yes my dude, think at this point I'd straight-up take that over most motW stuff (great as that is); amazing atmospheres



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