Review: Taw – Truce Terms (Bezirk Tapes, Jul 31)

I knew I was going to love Truce Terms as soon as I read the phrase “Fisher Price musique concrete [sic]” in the description. Toy instruments and simply children’s toys in general are a class of sound objects I believe to be underutilized in abstract experimental music; artists like Frank Pahl, Klimperei, and others frequently use them, but the end result is something more resembling folk or musette rather than a formless, texture-focused creation. Taw, the newly formed duo of Welsh musicians Owen Martell and Simon Proffitt (the two also play together as The Master Musicians of Dyffryn Moor, and I was aware of Proffitt’s work via his field recording collections released under the alias Cahn Ingold Prelog) demonstrates just how incredible and inspired music produced with this unusual approach can be. The five tracks that comprise Truce Terms were hewn from an hour-long recording session that is said to be the first time Martell and Proffitt improvised with the pile of toys they collected, and if that is actually the case then I am beyond impressed, because each piece feels fully-realized, well-paced, and packed with endless curiosities to dig into. The term “discrete cacophonies” is another extremely apt descriptor provided on the Bandcamp page, as tracks like “Offground” dive deep into a overstuffed toolbox of unidentified shakers, scrapers, and clackers that spread their deliciously lush micro-textures across a sound-space of uncertain size, while “Cymod” (pronounced KUH-mod; welcome to Welsh baby) unfolds at a slow, ambling pace, as if the contents of an old toy chest have been lovingly poured onto an agitated surface. Even disregarding the novelty factor, Truce Terms is a masterful example of improvised music in general (there are definitely echoes of stuff like Portland Bike Ensemble, Seeded Plain, or even Iskra); the amazing creative approach and aesthetic are just lucrative bonuses.

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