| Sound

On the trail of the Nephilim…. Toundra’s battle for the hearts and minds of Madrid via Hackney

This is a seamless blend, a symphony with thunderous undertones.


[dropcap style=”font-size:100px; color:#992211;”]S[/dropcap]kinnycandy’s quick capsule review: these guys are fucking great!

(Now I can almost hear those good folks at Trebuchet saying: “Listen up young Skinnycandy. This is not the sort of work we expect. Our readers do not want to feed on scraps. They could equally well do that on Twitter. Buck ya ideas up son or we’ll be asking you to spell P45. Goddit?” To which I politely respond in my best Benny from Top Cat voice: “Ok guyz.”)

Gross oversimplifications withstanding let’s slap some skin on this skeletal prelude.

I’m at the bar and trying to decide on a Renegade at 5.6%, which may tip me towards the half gallon consumption marker, or, a pint of something a little lighter at 4.8%, thereby stalling the feeling of the half gallon a little longer. Decisions, decisions. And there’s a small screen at the bar, 10″ by 10″ possibly, and I’m wondering how they get all those people to fit inside such a small screen. It looks cosy.

And the mind wanders again, this time to Toundra and whether it’s an anagram and how many words I can find in the name. Ah, there’s one: rotunda, and then I spot a donut and then, and then….yes, I can imagine them doing donuts in a uranium-tipped bulletpocked Berliner multistorey mall inside a slightly larger screen with subtitles saying something like: Vorsprung a leak durch tecknk. (The voices inside my head say: “Gotta focus son, gotta focus.”)

It was Steinbeck who once wrote there are rooms of experience that we dare not enter and can never understand (and even if that isn’t the exact order in which he structured it, it should have been). This room of experience is helpfully labelled ‘The Venue’. I descend the stairs and have myself now managed also to squeeze inside that TV screen. Tight fit but I made it.

Back in the day before mobile phones there used to be moshpits (oh for the days of Screaming Trees and Fugazi). Hallelujah! I have been spared the forest of mobile phones so ever-present at every gig one seems to go to these days. However, there is another peril, dammit, one I couldn’t have foreseen. A forest of statues before me – nobody is moving. Jadis has activated her wand; a terracotta army now before me! (Contrary to the popular mind, inside the entertainment industry its unique food chain places musicians second to bottom just above magicians. Might explain Jadis’ revenge: that girl got some attitude). So, no moshpit then.

Interesting gig experience this one. Normally one would be swept up in the MOMENT and it was a sensory bombardment for sure, and, I was certainly swept up, but when? Did arriving home post-gig and playing Sonic Youth’s Goo album start to make any more sense of the sense for me? Toundra are a unique drug in that respect. It all made more sense the NEXT afternoon while deciding on a “8oz or 12oz coffee?”

Decisions, decisions.
This is instrumental rock and as a consequence allows the mind to conjure all sorts of tricks. What, for example, might they sound like with Diamanda Galas on vocals? Toundra are loveable rogues certainly, and the stand out thing about them is the wake vortex.
I was denied the pleasure of a set-list even though the sound engineer did kindly flash a photo on his mobile at me which revealed one name: ‘Magreb’, track 4 – didn’t catch the rest. No matter. This is a seamless blend, a symphony with thunderous undertones. So, dear reader, what else indeed did it conjure?
 (It’s raining stair-rods and I find a phone box in which to shelter. Resembling in appearance a ‘Badly Drawn Ant’ , and pausing for the occasional drag on a bedraggled cigarette,  place my call in hushed and intermittently panicked tones,  to the office and respond to the voicemail prompt:

“Trebuchet? Trebuchet? It’s Skinny Marlowe. I’m at the corner of Hide and Seek. It’s all goin’ on here! It’s an opening salvo in a battle for the souls of Madrid via Hackney, home of the beard. Imagine waking up next to a nephilim and trying to kick it out of bed, which, irked at its advances being rebuffed, lassos the entire London Philharmonic and drags it behind it down a gilded staircase. Pulses. Turbulences, more rebuffed overtures (those LPO ones sometimes found wanting) and I imagine..NO.. see, beards – actual stand-alone beards, no faces or head – in a boxing bout. And in both corners beards jumping up and down screaming: ‘YES! YES! YES! Hirsute you sir!’. Swear the ceiling’s bowing now. I think I’m riding pillion, commando, on a boom rod above a Nevada panorama. I don’t know what that shit was I took earlier guys. 5.8%? 4.8%? Can’t fucking remember. I’m sweating Niagara. It’s inclement. It’s Vegan-uary, followed by Steak-uary. Actually there’s a menu here and I’ve just spotted that it states ‘Meat is MEAT!’  You remember don’t you guys? Guys?! You remember! Morrissey broke into the palace with a sponge and a rusty spanner right? Toundra fair flattened it with that goddamn nephilim wielding a bass guitar. Every month in this part of town would seem to be Beard-uary and, lined up end to end, would save Toundra the expense of a plane flight back to Spain (although I am not in a hurry to see them leave). It’s just the damned nephilim giving me the jitters. Next stop Belgium I believe. I gotta get outta here though. Gotta get to a safer place. Guys? Guys?!”)

So, that’s what it really did sound like. Toundra do take you to different places. Who’d have thought it eh? Honestly, you’d love them.

 If you are brave enough to follow the trail of the Nephilim.

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