(Sputnikmusic) 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. - Jared W. Dillon
(Vital Weekly) Tartar Lamb, a duo of one Toby Driver and Mia Matsumiya. They only get together as such to perform this work, '60 Metonymies' for violin and guitar, which was written by Toby driver, although they might come together in the future to record other pieces. Although '60 Metonymies' is primarily a a duet for violin and guitar, Tim Barnes trumpet) and Andrew Greenwald (drums) are also brought in on some pieces to add some extra sound. Also studio treatment plays an important role on this CD. It's not always a pure, clean recording of two instruments, but sound effects play some role. It works best as an extended group then, so with the trumpet on drums, like on the ninth track (no track listing come with my copy, but looking at the xeroxed photos of the cover, it no doubt looks like a great cover). Intimate, atmospheric pieces of music, that holds somewhere in between improvisation and composition. Here instruments call for a lead in the play, and makes hitherto more intense music. Quite nice. - Frans de Waard
(Godspeed) ayo Dot?n kemikle?mi? hayran kitlesi için beklenen bir proje,yeni dinleyenler için ise ak?l kar? olmayan bir olu?um olarak görülen Tartar Lamb, Toby Driver ve Mia Matsumiyan?n dehas?n?n uzant?s? olmaktan bir ad?m ileriye gidip Tim Byrnes ve Andrew Greenwald?n da suç ortakl?klar? sonucu uzun soluklu bir elektrogitar/keman düetiyle kar??m?za ç?k?yor. Albümdeki tüm artworkler de tamam?yla Toby Driver?n eseri ve ?ark?larla uyumu göz önüne al?nd???nda rahats?z edicili?i bir kere daha göze çarp?yor. 21 ay gibi k?sa bir sürede grubun kendi finansal çabalar?yla ortaya ç?kan bu albüme ki?isel siteleri üzerinden de makul bir ücret kar??l??? sahip olunabilmekte. - merzbau
(Tiny Mix Tapes) I once had a professor who said the main difference between tonal and atonal music is predictability. This perhaps obvious statement helped me realize why I enjoy modern composition more than anything pre-20th century: the newer stuff packs so many surprises, and many of them are downright scary. Offering many of these surprises is Tartar Lamb, a quartet assembled by violinist Toby Driver. With 60 Metonymies, he and his collaborators have created a lovely work that has all the succulent unpredictability of a long-awaited (and abrupt) first kiss. The violin is truly the prima donna of the piece, a plaintive, impetuous voice that gives the album its emotional pitch. The guitar offers more inquisitive, cautious phrases, and the horn flutters on the fringe. Anchored in a pulsing circle of reverbed guitar, these instruments pivot and surge on swells of drum and cymbal. The musicians here are talented enough to sound both tight and adventurous; they do an impressive job of letting pretty moments endure just long enough that their subsequent disruption becomes a pleasure in itself. The first movement opens with a revelatory A-ha! The butler did it! kind of feeling. Over the next 11 minutes, the drama is found in the repetitive buildup of tensions that find no release. This absence of resolution persists throughout 60 Metonymies and keeps it interesting, despite the lack of narrative arc that it entails. (We never find out if the butler really did do it. In fact, the butler might be a vacuum cleaner). At the start of the second movement, a pizzicato melody tiptoes over gently ringing guitar tones and the errant clattering of cymbals before the bow is put back on the strings. The violin, guitar, and horn seem to be a three-headed monster looking for ways to split itself in the stop-and-start ruckus of the drums. In the third movement, Driver plays a few melodies that sound like they actually belong to a scale, and also introduces some choice overdubbing of his violin, yielding a handful of particularly poignant passages. Other new, ambiguous sounds briefly slip into the mix: hard to tell if that pattering is the shuffling of cards, rain on a tin roof, or just a clever manipulation of a snare drum. In the last movement, Driver teases out frail notes in the higher registers, making his violin sound almost like a flute. Throughout these irregular shifts, he and his collaborators sustain the complex mood of anticipation and melancholy they created in the pieces first few seconds. Thanks to both skillful musicianship and good writing, 60 Metonymies is imbued with emotion despite an impressive amount of restraint exercised throughout. It never feels indulgent or wonky, but its not too polite, either. It poses the most effective kind of threat: one that never has to be realized. This threat is exactly what enables Driver & Co. to put the beauty of unpredictability to work. - Split Foster
(Listener Review) Over the past three or four years, I've been listening to Toby Driver's works more and more, and inasmuch paying more attention to what he is doing in the music world. Many that know the young imaginative musician deem him a genius. Personally, I am extremely sparing with the term, and I am not quite prepared to label Driver as such a thing. True, he is the creative mastermind behind such projects as "Kayo Dot" and its precursor "maudlin of the Well," but I think it is far too early to start throwing the word "genius" around. However, he is brilliant nonetheless, and this latest project of his is yet another deep exploration into the realms of his imagination. First off, if you are expecting another Kayo Dot or motW, Tartar Lamb does not deliver such a thing. Sixty Metonymies is more of a minimalist work, closer in comparability though not exactly similar to Toby's solo project "In the L..L.. Library Loft." It is dark, mysterious, and cleverly subtle. With the exception of the final moments of the last track, Sixty Metonymies is an instrumental work, comprised of three lengthy tracks and a shorter one. It includes mostly plodding, hollow, and non-distorted guitar sounds, accompanied by the versatile violin of Mia Matsumiya, some horns, and very few percussive elements. From the start and throughout nearly the entire album, the rhythms and themes are very abstract and enigmatic, progressing, evolving, and un-evolving in a seemingly sporadic fashion. I get a mental image of an anxious and fearful search through unknown territory, the cause and outcome of which remain uncertain even at the very end. Intertwined are deeply rooted feelings of sorrow and misguided anticipations. The uncertainty comes to full fruition in the culmination of the album. Whereas the entire album seems based upon natural and primitive components, an unexpected robotic voice pervades the final moments, leaving us questioning the very existence with which we were presented herein, and feeding curiosity with more ambiguity rather than concise solution to the plight at hand. Toby Driver seems to have a gift for making highly reflective and introspective music. Music that you can listen to over and over again and contemplate endlessly, and still never completely grasp what it was he was trying to convey. It is a buffet for the desires of even the most insatiable listeners, and even so, it leaves you wanting more. And at the rate Driver is going, I think it's safe to say he has much more to offer us in the future. To the diligent musical explorer, I offer the sage advice of keeping a close watch on everything that Toby Driver does, if you don't already. - Rifugium