Monday, April 16, 2012

Toning - Paranormal Romance (Skell 009)

Maui Wowie, courtesy of Nuggetry

Out of all three cassettes from the most recent batch of Skell tapes, Paranormal Romance by Toning, might be the most intriguing.  Toning is the moniker of Cody Brant, an artist that generally utilizes guitar, bass, synth, percussion and other instruments to create wild, eclectic environments of sound. 2011 was a banner year for Brant, as Toning released the magnificent Pitch the Drone, on venerable and sadly defunct Stunned Records and Drained Brains on Eggy. For me, Brant is like an NBA all-star: The pallete from which he spins his art is rich and diverse.  If you have yet to examine the Toning soundcloud page, give it a chance, as I highly recommend the plethora of recently posted tracks:  "Soothes" is as smooth as Kevin Durant; "Island Wench" could be the soundtrack to the ultimate defensive player, dominating the boards; meanwhile, "Up the Staircase" is the portrait of a frenetic end-to-end game.  Brant's game is pretty complete; and Toning is a distinguished conjurer, creating soundscapes of great depth and feeling.   

On Paranormal Romance, much like Pitch the Drone, Brant's preference is to work in the shorter, focused realm of electronic music.  Being accustomed to listening to side-long or longer pieces of music, it is a pleasure and refreshing to assess an artist working within the constraint of time.  After many listens, it is evident that Brant's art is beautiful and under-publicized.  More so, his overall acuity in juxtaposing sounds and skill with multiple instruments makes for an intriguing and unpredictable experience.  As an example, the first four tracks are each unique, rarely traveling the same path.  "Certain Spots" opens the A side with electronic buzz, which slowly gives way to a warm synth drone; "Elusive March" is anything but elusive, as the thick, heavy tones envelop the listener; and without notice, "Magnetized" displays Brant's beautiful finger-picked guitar guitar and alluring tones.  "Looming Fog" is an apt name for the fourth track as Brant juxtaposes languid, sporadic tones, with fast guitar playing - almost sounding acoustic - that eventually dominates the track.  For me the other standout tracks are "Dream Answer"; "Go Your Way", with its eastern vibe; "Ski Dubai"; and "Patience", which sounds like a track from a Sunshine Ltd. cassette.  Alas, I almost forgot to mention the psyched out artwork, something of which is commonplace on a Skell tape.

Mike Griffin is definitely doing big things with the Skell label.  In keeping with aura of this site, for me Skell is like the six foot bong of my dreams, the vehicle; and Mike's cassettes are like the rarest of buds which only grow in certain climates.  Paranormal Romance is selling like the finest indica at the corner dispensary; Tomentosa has already sold their stock and supplies are likely running low elsewhere.  Buy this tape directly from Mike or through Flipped Out.

Peace, my friends