Tonochrome
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Tonochrome

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"Review of the Year 2012: EPs"

Tonochrome – Tonochrome EP (avant-rock)
£0+ DD £5 CD
http://tonochrome.bandcamp.com/album/tonochrome-ep
There’s a limit to what words can tell you about music, and I’m not about to get into one of my trademark contextual digressions here: the things I’m going to say about Tonochrome (that they make use of unusual or re-purposed musical materials, that they are very creative and original, that their lyrics are out of the usual way of rock lyrics, that in spite of these things they are very accessible) are things that I have said about other artists in this list. If you want to know in what way they are different and unique, you’ll have to listen; suffice it to say that they make magnificent and distinctive music, and that I like this EP a lot. - Oliver Arditi


"Review Tonochrome EP"

Although they’re young enough to be touching down for a 2012 debut, what Tonochrome ultimately resemble are a gaggle of 1970s rockers: ones who’ve been lucky enough to see the future only to then forget three-quarters of it, but who are doing their best to catch up regardless.

A scattered glut of pop knowledge and ambition is their fuel. From the central framework of Andres Razzini’s guitar and buttery soft-soul-inspired vocals, they hang a succession of overlapping musical approaches. Each of these is played with vigour while it’s in place, but is tossed aside as soon as a song’s over, or even before. The wardrobe in Tonochrome’s memory palace must be bursting – every visit there would be a swan dive into the mental equivalent of a mass of silks, jeans, capes and feather boas. This layering of ideas and styles (and the band’s restlessness as regards taking a final form) ensures that Tonochrome fit right in with the swarm of post-progressive rock bands that are currently rising to attention: but while they do share a member with Knifeworld, they have little in common with that band’s tumultuous and knotty psychedelia. Similarly, they’re not a band who wear their diversity like a fuck-you T-shirt. In spite of their restlessness, they never play with grate-and-chop disruptiveness.

Instead, they’re a much smoother proposition, like a slightly proggier Tears For Fears. Not in terms of Orzabal and co’s melodramatically distressed New Wave beginnings; Tonochrome are more in tune with the confident, eclectomaniac soul-pop version which came later. It’s the flair, or the flare; the way that Tonochrome (all of whom play beautifully and bring plenty of ideas to the party) can flickeringly recall both Bolan and the Buckleys, blur into a Beatles singalong by way of both Genesis and Alexander O’Neal, or take flight over a pulse of Spanish-flavoured funk. Whatever’s going on with that wardrobe, there’s also a feeling of curtains sweeping up and away and down; theatrically introducing new ideas, new burnishings.

Theatre – that’s appropriate. At root, Tonochrome’s songs are about performance and the battle with fear, that way that “time moves on, / slaps in the face.” Andres sings about launching, about halting, about taking or surrendering control: Let It Begin is a personal call to arms and activity, shuffling a lyric full of shows and races, walls and spectators, push-buttons and puppet-strings. Musically, it’s the ’70s as seen though the ’80s. Andres and Charlie Cawood chop out a hairy chug of hard-rock guitars, Steve Holmes’ kinked synth lines find common ground between P-Funk and Marillion, and Andres enjoys a luxuriant soul-man sprawl across the choruses. A soul song realised with prog methods, it settles into a lively stew of pop. Mike Elliott plunks his bass like a funky cello and sings along: someone else plays water percussion. From the clapalong riff that adds wiggle to the rhythms, to the squishy breakdown in the middle and the carnival-drumming finish, there’s enough on here to front a parade.

It’s a fine and confident opening; but that nagging sense of unease remains, however many musical layers the band run through their busy fingers. Eerie swerving Ebow lines cry whalesong trails through Waiting To Be Unveiled (a leaner, gliding cousin to the long-lost bewitchment of Levitation’s Even When Your Eyes Are Open). This time, Andres sings quietly and with trepidation: “The unknown may be terrifying, but it’s got such a pretty face. / No one can predict the future, / but I’ve got an ace…” The payoff, however, is pure heart-on-sleeve ’80s pop, vocals melting and caroling around a resolution: “I will abdicate my kingdom / for a chance to see the world.”


Starts And Ends sees Andres stripped of his band’s protection. Alone and shivering, he creates a haunting drape of melody with a lonely echoing electric guitar, a slow-falling ladder of jazzy chords and a rattlesnake breath of percussion. He sings of self-reliance (“on this road I’ve known / those who wait for signs and cues. / Trudging on, stones in their shoes… / By the side of the road / let go of heavy loads – / all you need is here,”) but the wound in his voice belies it. Throughout the EP, he works around the paradoxes of hope and fear. Necessary spurs, or killers of initiative? Blinding deceivers, or inspirations?

Andres is still puzzling it out over the Buckleyesque minor-key figures on Gods and Demons, wrestling with conflicting directions even as crunchy Jefferson Airplane choruses and slithering Spanish rhythms kick in alongside a fax-machine witter of noise guitar. On Punctuation Marks, he protests “I’m half-way and see no starting line” over a zip-and-dodge acoustic guitar as the rest of the band pass a swirl of r’n'b, prog-synth and shimmer-pop ideas through a storm of psychedelic noise. These doubts fit into Tonochrome’s world like their own teeth; like all of the varied influences the band’s spread of members weave into their tight and poppy rope of songcraft; just as this EP could be the harbinger of a solid career of eclectic rock if Tonochrome hold it together, or an early omen for a set of promising solo careers if they don’t. We may doubt, we’ll certainly hope. We’ll see. - Misfit City


"30 Seconds Interview"

Tonochrome are Mike Elliot (bass, voice), Charlie Cawood (guitar), Steve Holmes (keys, voice, percussion), Andres Razzini (voice, guitar) and Agelis Zevgoulas (drums). The London-based group got together towards the tail end of 2011 before heading to Brooklyn for the winter – they spent the colder months recording, rehearsing and honing their collective musical craft. The rock band returned to the UK in early 2012 where they landed with a loud splash in the London gigging circuit.

For those not in the know, their self-titled EP is the best place to start – the band blend electronics, rock riffs and idiosyncratic rhythm with layers of reverb to come up with something as equally as experimental as it is their own.

They’ve also collaborated with Norwegian artist Hedvig S Thorkilsen to create a unique series of silk prints – one has been used as the EP cover and another printed on an aluminum plate, cut into 16 pieces and packaged as a unique limited edition series of the EP.

Londoners can witness the band’s live spectacle at Catch in Shoreditch on 12 December…



We first started writing music…
for no reason whatsoever that we can recall.

We have been making music since…
Our childhood, then as friends since 2006 when we met at music college – we’ve been Tonochrome since autumn 2011.

Our music is…
something you’d rather listen to than read about.

You’ll like us if you listen to…
carefully crafted songs, atmospheres, interplay, hidden patterns, cool grooves and the voices in your head.

Our favourite venue is…
Cafe Oto, though we’ve never, and as Tonochrome probably never will, play there. Out of the ones we’ve played, Rattlesnake in Angel left a very good impression.

Music is important because…
it has the power to move us emotionally and take our minds to places it wouldn’t go without it.

Our biggest inspiration is…
The world around us, here and now.

Our dream collaboration would be…
Each of us would give you names that have nothing to do with each other – the list would probably include visual and plastic artists as well as other non musicians.

To try us out, listen to our song…
Listen to them all really, but if you’re only going to give us one chance: listen to Let it Begin if you like riffs and grooves, Waiting to Be Unveiled if you like vibes and bass lines, Gods and Demons if you like counting beats and weird guitar sounds, Starts and Ends if you’re chilling and want something ‘nice’, Punctuation Marks if you’re in the mood for a beat and a journey.

If we weren’t making music we’d be…
Making loads of money!

In 10 years time we want to be…
Happy. Making the best music we can possibly make, touring the world with four albums under our belt – so let’s get cracking… - m-magazine


Discography

Tonochrome - EP (2012)

Photos

Bio


Tonochrome is a fresh 5-piece London band who recently released their self-entitled debut EP, via ‘Rough Trade’ and ‘Bandcamp.’ Their music is best described as 21st century alternative rock.

Having only formed in September 2011 the band have progressed leaps and bounds. The EP which was recorded throughout a mild winter in Brooklyn, marked the beginning of the journey. On their return to London early 2012, they made a huge impression on the London gigging circuit, and managed to have the rest of the year fully booked up by summer.

Tonochrome’s EP hits somewhere like a lost gem from the mid 90s American underground and forward-thinking balladry. Their debut is immersed in contemporary soundscaping with a mix of electronic elements, truly organic rock riffs and odd meters, occasionally cavernous reverby production and some heartfelt, direct songwriting which is bolstered by the production flourishes. In collaboration with Norwegian artist Hedvig S. Thorkilsen, they created a unique series of silk prints, one used as the EP cover and another printed on an aluminum plate, cut into 16 pieces and packaged as a unique limited edition series of the EP.

The band consisting of Mike Elliot (bass, voice), Charlie Cawood (guitar), Steve Holmes (keys, voice, percussion), Andres Razzini (voice, guitar) and Agelis Zevgoulas (drums) have a bright future stating “Since the EP the writing process has developed into a much more collective affair, taking advantage of everyone’s rich musicianship and complementary different musical backgrounds, with a clear direction and a wide spectrum of ideas evolving.”