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* Toby Driver photo by Gemma Fleming
Toby Driver is an "other". Not like Benjamin Linus or one of the Dharma Initiative, but in that his artistic endeavors Kayo Dot and Maudlin of The Well exist in the in-between, and outside. Driver's current project, Kayo Dot, is prepping to release their fourth album Coyote via Hydra Head on April 6th. On Coyote, elements of goth, avant-jazz, prog, ambient, and the kitchen sink meld with the avant-garde, making for an intensely fascinating and eclectic listen.
Driver was recently asked to curate the month of February at The Stone, John Zorn's non-profit club in the East Village. We sat down to ask Driver about some of the bands he chose which include solo sets from members of Krallice, Dysrhythmia, Extra Life, and Bloody Panda in addition to Baby Dee, Oxbow, Gnaw, and a full performance by his own band doing Coyote from start to finish, and the recent resurrection of Maudlin of The Well.
Full interview and Stone schedule, below....
BV: Kayo Dot is very expansive with multiple different directional shifts and styles, and Coyote definitely has moments where I am reminded of Scott Walker and Goblin, along with some avant-jazz stylings. What is your current musical inspiration going into this project?
Toby Driver: On this one, I wanted to use the aesthetic of 80's art-goth electric bass - bridge picking, lots of chorus, and frequent use of the open G string - in the context of modern-composition as opposed to straight-up riffs. The two main bands that influenced my perception of that sound were The Cure and Faith And The Muse. Melodically, I was influenced by the amazing trumpet tone of local composer Tim Byrnes, the soprano sax playing of another of our local composers, Matthew Welch, and then the Mujician and/or Ornette sax/trumpet unison duets of the 60s. The dark Scott Walker you hear is definitely intentional, and I think the Goblin is just a result of the gear we used (Korg Poly6 in this case). I'm trying to reclaim goth for those of us who love the aesthetic but want something more sophisticated. We all were reading the Vertigo comic "House of Mystery" while in session, too. ha!?
Kayo Dot (photo by Gemma Fleming)
Who are some of the collaborators on Coyote, and how have they helped to shape the sound of the record?
TD: Firstly, Coyote marks the return of Terran Olson, who was in MOTW and also on Kayo Dot's 2003 debut. Terran has a great ability to find ways of fitting catchy and accessible melodies into my strange clumps of cat-spittled musical yarn. Then we also have Tim Byrnes guesting on trumpet, who played with Candiria and Friendly Bears, and is currently of Hazel-Rah. I normally hate trumpet, but Tim's sound is extra special, warm, and smooth, and as I mentioned above, his tone was one of the springboards for Coyote - I had wanted to write some music that used Tim's playing at the forefront. Finally, we also collaborated with Yuko Sueta, who contributed lyrics, whose style and atmosphere influenced the decision to inject Scott Walker & Rozz Williams into the vocals.
Your music is very forward-thinking, so it seemed almost out of character to reform a band that you had previously put to bed, Maudlin of The Well, for a new record. What was the inspiration behind that?
TD: Actually the purpose was specifically to put MOTW to bed. The record that we released in 2009 was made up of a lot of old material that had just been languishing for years. Additionally, making an album like Part The Second (the new Maudlin... album) is relatively relaxing and easy compared to making a Kayo Dot album, and is just a great source of fun for everyone involved. I'd be happy to do more albums like that at any time, if the funding were there.
Maudlin Of The Well
So you are curating The Stone for the month of February and have booked two luminary solo artists, Joe Preston and Mick Barr. What is your favorite Joe Preston project? What about Mick Barr project?
TD: My favorite of Joe's is Thrones! My favorite of Mick's is the Orthrelm album, Ov.
Can you discuss some of your favorite nights at The Stone in Feb?
TD: I think they're all going to be pretty spectacular, but the ones I would like to call special attention to are the nights on which the performers are traveling great distances just to present their music here in NYC. There is Lavigna, coming all the way from France. They're kind of like a semi-improvisatory noise/grind band, with some horns and a very tall male singer who dresses up in a princess outfit and screams. The vibe reminded me of the Providence band, Throne of Blood, but with horns. Then there's Sword of Exactly, from Indiana, whose music used to be like a combination of Yes, Megadeth, and Kate Bush, and has since become even more abstract - complex compositions, catchy tunes, amazing singer. Definitely my #1 favorite discovery that Kayo Dot had ever played with on the road. The infamous Oxbow (as a duo) will be playing an acoustic set, as well as performing music and words from Eugene Robinson's new book with members of PsychicTV. Perhaps the artist I'm most excited about is Steeve Hurdle, ex-Gorguts guitar genius from Montreal, who'll be playing a few sets - one solo, one with Craig Taborn, and one at the Valentine's Day improv night with myself, John Zorn, and others.
What was the inspiration behind playing Coyote and Choirs Of The Eye in it's entirety?
TD: I thought these two were the most relevant - Choirs of the Eye being a Tzadik release (and The Stone being Zorn's venue) and Coyote being the brand new one. And the reason for performing the records in their entirety like this is to express that Kayo Dot albums are always conceptualized as full pieces, experiences, not as separate songs, and that each CD is intended to be listened to as a whole, from beginning to end.
Full February 2010 show listing for The Stone follows:
MONDAY FEBRUARY 1-STONE SEMINAR 5
BUTCH MORRIS: The Principles of Conduction®
7PM to 10PM-TWENTY DOLLARS: Open to all
For the 25th Anniversary of Conduction, Butch Morris presents a special lecture/ demonstration, a concert featuring a string octet and a Q&A on the methods and principles of Conduction.
2/2 Tuesday (NY)
Christian Dautresme (vocals, etc.)
Sugarlife explores notions of performance art, identity, and sexuality with an entertaining and often absurd live performance interaction. It tends to be hilarious as well as scary. Whether charging the air with electronic blips or singing a celestial soprano over acoustic guitar blossoms, Sugarlife becomes a sonic shaman where change is the only constant. Neo-Fluxus freak out? Absurdist action art? The ghost of a soft G.G. Allin as a drag queen from a distant planet? Sugarlife transcends any movement classification.
Michael Gamble (Guitar, Keys, Bass, Vox) Devin Febbroriello (Vox, Guitar, Bass, Kaoss) Conor Elmes (Drums) Ari Folman Cohen (Bass)
Scrambler/Seequill is the collaborative music and production project by Michael Gamble (scrambler) and Devin Febbroriello (Seequill). Coming from different backgrounds, Scrambler and Seequill have found a meeting place to channel their visions and voices dualistically. Drawing from various experiences, inspirations, and influences a certain sound and message is earnestly delivered. Songs written under covers, at night and at dawn over coffee, during good years and bad years.
2/3 Wednesday (JC)
Terran Olson - "Nevsky Prospekt"
Terran Olson (piano), David Bodie (drums), Toby Driver (guitar)
Multi-instrumentalist known for his work with Kayo Dot, maudlin of the Well, and Autumn Tears premieres a new ensemble and long-form composition based on the story by Nikolai Gogol.
Mick Barr (electric guitar)
2/4 Thursday (NY)
Bill Brovold (guitar) plus guests
Bill reunites with the original lineup of Larval
Chuck Stern (vocals)
Stern is Chuck Stern, formerly of New York art/prog abstractionists Time of Orchids. The music is dense and cinematic, occupying its own late-night vacuum - a haze of brooding, Shostakovian synth and angular guitar work, laced with trumpet, industrial noise and Chuck's unique, haunting vocals.
2/5 Friday (YT)
Baby Dee (piano, vocals) Matthew Robinson (cello)
Baby Dee will sing about slugs and play classical music for cowboys with cowboy hat-hair.
Sword of Exactly
Evelyn Davis (piano, vocals) Joe Kiplinger (guitar), Joey Molinaro (violin), Rob Funkhouser (percussion, mixing bowls), plus guests
New music composer Evelyn Davis conflates influences of art rock, metal, prog, and opera to create extremely subtle, thoughtful, microtonally oriented works which are viscerally emotionally expressive. Her recent work includes a song cycle, "From the Bath", for countertenor, alto, viola, and alto flute, which is based on her own text, and which expresses issues such as loss, bisexuality, masturbation, and abortion through the mouthpiece of effeminate masculinity.
2/6 Saturday (JM)
Kayo Dot plays Choirs of the Eye
Toby Driver (guitar, vocals) Mia Matsumiya (violin, keyboards) Terran Olson (keyboards, woodwinds) Daniel Means (guitar, woodwinds, bass) David Bodie (percussion) and special guest Greg Massi (guitar)
Kayo Dot plays the entirety of their 2003 Tzadik debut, which has made many "Best Albums of the Decade" Lists, with special guest former KD guitarist Greg Massi joining for this performance only!
Kayo Dot plays Coyote
Toby Driver (bass, vocals) Mia Matsumiya (violin, guitar) Terran Olson (keyboards, tenor sax) Daniel Means (alto sax) David Bodie (percussion) and special guest Tim Byrnes (trumpet)
Kayo Dot plays the entirety of their forthcoming Hydra Head release.
2/7 Sunday (JB)
Tartar Lamb II
Toby Driver (bass guitar and vocals), Terran Olson (alto sax), Jeremiah Cymerman (clarinet), Dan Means (alto sax), Tim Byrnes (trumpet and french horn)
Modern-classical electroacoustic doom lattices and wall-melting balladry. Questionable tonality. Gradual development, immediate descent into hell.
Bauder/Cymerman/Evans/Wooley AMPLIFIED QUARTET
Matt Bauder (amplified sax) Jeremiah Cymerman (amplified clarinet) Peter Evans (amplified trumpet) Nate Wooley (amplified trumpet)
MONDAY FEBRUARY 8-STONE SEMINAR 6
ELLIOTT SHARP-Music in the Post-Digital Era
7PM to 9PM-TWENTY DOLLARS: Open to all
Composer Elliott Sharp discusses and presents scores and audio examples of his work, past and current, in the context of biological and mathematical models of musical organization, an evaluation of computers and new media in performance, algorithmic composition vs improvisation, and the question of smell. Compositions to be discussed include the orchestral works "Larynx", "Calling" and "On Corlear's Hook"; selected string quartets including "Dispersion of Seeds", "Tessalation Row", and "Seize Seas Seeth Seen"; "SyndaKit", "Polymerae" and other algorithmic works; electroacoustic works such as "Cryptid Fragments"; solo approaches including Tectonics and Velocity of Hue; and the music-theater works "innosense", "EmPyre" and "Binibon".
2/9 Tuesday (NY)
Jason Byron (voice)
Former lyricist of Kayo Dot and maudlin of the Well Jason Byron, an Initiate of ______, offers a brief talk on modern ceremonial Magick, and will perform a personal ritual, with musical accompaniment. A once in a lifetime experience not to be missed!
Matty McDermott (guitar, organ, voice, percussion) Eri Shoji (voice, percussion), Nickle Emmet (bass, percussion), Jesse Stathos (congas, percussion)
NYMPH is a Brooklyn-based psychedelic shred/avant garde outfit whose tempestuously transcendent music has penetrated the New York music scene with bared teeth. The duo-plus-two's orgiastic din is composed & orchestrated by the nucleus of MATTY & ERI. His inner animal comes mostly to bear in his monstrous guitar sound; echoed, reverbed, distorted, slack-jawed, claw-toothed & sharp as lethal icicles, it is equal parts Greg Ginn and Erkin Koray & is complemented by the thundering harmonic prowess of NICKLE on bass. ERI relies on intuitive vocal expression largely free from the semantic bounds of lyric; her mode finds form in a cavalcade of orgasmic yelps, howls & piercing screams.
2/10 Wednesday (NY)
Josh Roseman Trio with Guests
Josh Roseman (trombone) plus guests
Joe Frivaldi (guitar) Patrick Holmes (clarinet) Akio Mokuno (bass) Jaiko Suzuki (drums)
From a storm of musical chaos emerges the quartet Electroputas with chunks of noise, large swathes of psychedelic fervor, and large dashes of complete freakout fever.
2/11 Thursday (TD)
Maureen McElheron and Nicole Renaud
Maureen McElheron (piano, vocals), Nicole Renaud (accordion, voice)
Maureen McElheron and Nicole Renaud compose and sing the music for the super-bizarre animated films of Bill Plympton, whose cartoons have been featured on MTV, BRAVO and Cartoon Network. Tonight they'll also be showing some of Bill's films while they perform.
Jessica Pavone - Songs of Synastry and Solitude
Toomai String Quintet - John Popham (cello), Andrew Roitstein (bass), Emilie-Anne Gendron (violin), Erin Wight (viola)
Songs of Synastry and Solitude is a collection of songs for string quartet influenced by an interest in the simple beauty of folk songs, the ghosts of all things lost and Leonard Cohen's encouragement to live outside this world.
Lavigna (voice, guitar) Alain "Astucieux Coquin" Halimi (saxophone, flute) Olivier Pelletier (clarinet) Antoni Cionci (balafon, guitar) Damien Girot (drums)
Lavigna is an intense free punk grind French band coming to The Stone all the way from Mediterranée. Absolutely mindblowing.
Alan Dubin (voice) Carter Thornton (guitar, bass) Brian Beatrice (guitar, bass) Jun Mizumachi (laptop/fx/noise) Eric Neuser (drums)
Gnaw viciously assaults listeners with their unique brew of ultra-depressive, scathing, slug-paced extreme metal.
2/13 Saturday (DS)
Steeve Hurdle and Craig Taborn
Steeve Hurdle (guitar) Craig Taborn (piano)
Hailing from Montreal, Steeve Hurdle is best known for his ingenious guitar playing on the greatest creative extreme metal album of all time, Obscura by Gorguts. Steeve currently plays in NEGATIVA.
Steeve Hurdle solo
Steeve Hurdle (el. guitar)
2/14 Sunday (NY)
8 and 10 pm
ANNUAL VALENTINE'S DAY IMPROV NIGHT-A Stone Benefit
John Zorn (sax) Toby Driver (bass) Steeve Hurdle (guitar) and many special guests
Come out and share the love by supporting the Stone! Perfect concert for a first date! TWENTY DOLLARS
MONDAY FEBRUARY 15-STONE SEMINAR 7
7PM to 9PM-TWENTY DOLLARS: Open to all.
Tortured Genius and downtown legend Anthony Coleman, who now teaches at New England Conservatory speaks about the nexus of composition and improvisation in contemporary music.
2/16 Tuesday (NY)
Kevin Hufnagel solo
Kevin Hufnagel (guitar)
Guitarist Kevin Hufnagel is perhaps best known for his work in forward-thinking instrumental rock band Dysrhythmia and wall-of-sound guitar duo Byla. Tonight, Kevin plays some of his compositions for solo guitar.
Yoshiko Ohara (voice) Blake McDowell (keyboards)
Yoshiko is known as the vocalist of extreme horror-doom band Bloody Panda. She's joined here by Panda keyboardist Blake McDowell to perform some of her smaller scale darkwave songs.
2/17 Wednesday (JM)
Mind vs. Target!
Joseph Burkett (bass) Michael Libramento (drums) Shane Perlowin (guitar)
The music of Mind Vs Target ranges from rich harmonic textures to quick angular twists and turns, from delicate lyricism to cacophonous walls of sound... Though improvisation is prominent, with each member bringing his unique expression to a performance, much of the music is tightly composed and executed. And, though the direction of the group is largely rooted in the jazz avant-garde, other influences are strongly felt.
Shane Perlowin (guitar) Joseph Burkett (bass) Ryan Oslance (drums)
Ahleuchatistas are an instrumental power trio from Asheville, North Carolina, mixing improvisation and tightly controlled jump-cut compositional complexity.
2/18 Thursday (TD)
Erin Davidson (multi-instruments and voice)
dilly dilly is Erin Olivia Davidson, a multi-instrumentalist from Portland, Maine, who performs arrangements for ukulele, banjo, guitar, sequencer, vocals, and musical saw. After years playing with Cerberus Shoal and a small stint in Sage Francis's backing band, she'll play solo tonight, with a selection of songs that are part-folk, part-electronic, and entirely other.
Yellow Crystal Star
Mark Billings (electric guitar)
Austin-based, infinite drone activation of expanding dimensional perception. Progressive guitar trance, collaged tape prism of portals in/out/in neverending. A seemingly chaotic interpolation of chants, sources, samples, melodies, and lyrics, pieced together as a more complex vibrational language filtering down through the transforming dream
2/19 Friday (SK)
Hazel-Rah and Fiver
Tim Byrnes (synth, voice, and horn) David Andrew Moore (drums) Charlie Looker (baritone guitar) Adam Minkoff (guitar)
Come spend an evening with the "beggar from the country of the LORD" as he presents some old and new compositions for small ensembles of synth, guitar, drums, voice, and horn in F. Tim has been in the city for more than 11 years now and has contributed to such exciting musical acts as Candiria, Friendly Bears, Kayo Dot, and Ron Anderson's PAK.
Joe Preston (bass, drum machines, synths, and voice)
Joe is a rock legend, having been a member of Earth, The Melvins, Men's Recovery Project, The Need, High on Fire, and Harvey Milk. Joe has also played with SunnO)). Thrones is his long-running solo project, featuring Joe on bass, drum machines, synths, and voice, combining all these things into terrifying and progressive sludge.
8 and 10 pm
Carla Bozulich (voice), Tara Barnes (electric bass and voice) and others
2/21 Sunday (YT)
Toby Driver and Charlie Looker - Improvised electric guitar duos
Toby Driver (electric guitar) Charlie Looker (electric guitar)
Joshua Booth and Merc
Justin Bulava (clarinet with prerecorded electronics) Merc (laptop, joystick, controllers), Dan Peck (tuba)
New compositions by Joshua Booth and Merc (IfWhen).
MONDAY FEBRUARY 22-STONE SEMINAR 8
NOTE EARLY START TIME! 4PM to 7PM-TWENTY DOLLARS: Open to all.
Renown Bassist with Bob Dylan, Ornette Coleman, Tom Waits, Woody Allen, John Zorn, Lou Reed, Maryanne Faithful, Lee Konitz and coutless others speaks about the art of playing bass, musicianship, and the role of the bass in music today.
2/23 Tuesday (NY)
Matthew Welch's Blarvuster - "The Mosaic of Iridescence"
Matthew Welch (bagpipes, sax, voice) Leah Paul (flutes, sax) Max Mandel (viola) Mary Halvorson (el. guitar) Ian Riggs (el. bass) Tomas Fujiwara (drums)
A premiere of a new monolythic, concert length piece called "The Mosaic of Iridescence" -- exploring new subtleties of coloration, increased contrapuntal densities and rhythmic complexities for Blarvuster.
Kxxa Sxxxo (vocal, guitar, mandolin) Txxxxxxxxi Kxxxxa (guitar, percussion) Rxxxxxe Txxxxxo (drums)
Gxxxxn is a must-see. Kxxa screams like a newly born wild horse and croons like an old man talking to the distant boat fading into the spring haze. The noise from Kxxxxa's guitar, so sensitive and disturbing, breaks your old dream-box into pieces and from behind, Rxxxxxe's strict as well as emotional drums blow them up into the high air. This band from the Far East island will attack you like Tsunami and leave you in the shining debris of pure gold.
2/24 Wednesday (NY)
Kxxa Sxxxo (guitar, etc) Axxxa Kxxxxxxa (drums, etc)
Joe Goldring (guitar) Kevin Thomson (guitar) Pete Simonelli (voice) Doug Scharin (drums)
Enablers have established a new direction for the use of spoken word with music. The prose and poetry of Pete Simonelli is intricately woven into the dynamic guitar interplay of Joe Goldring and Kevin Thomson, punctuated by the compulsive and precise attack of Doug Scharin on drums. Musically, the compositions range from melodic minimalism to heavy, rhythmically challenging thickets of sound.
2/25 Thursday (KR)
Not The Wind, Not The Flag
Colin Fisher (tenor sax/guitar) Brandon Valdivia (drums)
Master improvisers from Toronto.
Not The Wind, Not The Flag with Sabir Mateen and Alia O'Brien
Colin Fisher (sax) Brandon Valdivia (drums) Sabir Mateen (woodwinds) Alia O'Brien (ney)
Eugene Robinson - A LONG SLOW SCREW
Eugene Robinson (voice), Niko Wenner (guitar), Zef Noi$e (violin), Alice Genese (bass)
Members of OXBOW and Psychic TV present readings from Eugene's new book
Eugene Robinson (voice), Niko Wenner (guitar) plus guests
2/27 Saturday (DS)
Andrea Centazzo & John Zorn
Andrea Centazzo (percussion) John Zorn (sax) and special guests
Here on a rare visit from Italy, Centazzo reunites with Zorn after over thirty years! TWENTY DOLLARS
Matthew Bourne (piano)
The virtuosic pianist from England. "...characterized by highly personal levels of emotional and physical intensity. Adjectives such as offensive, moving, banal, provocative and breathtaking are among those most commonly used."
2/28 Sunday (YT)
Anne Rhodes (voice), Nathan Bontrager (cello), Adam Matlock (accordion, recorders)
from New Haven.
Have a Nice Life
Dan Barrett (vocals, guitar, sampler), Tim Macuga (bass), M. Kestigian (guitar), Will Barrett (synthesizer)
Heavy, droning, and melodic combination of shoegaze, industrial, and new wave, in the vein of Sisters of Mercy, My Bloody Valentine, and Swans.