Tomaga – The Shape Of The Dance

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Mystical, future jazz, art-sound improv duo Tomaga have a new album out. It’s called ‘The Shape Of The Dance’ a title you can imagine Flowdan bellowing at you imperiously from a cloud of dry ice but more to the point, and combined with the cover art, suggests the music as accompaniment to some vexing and obscurantist modern dance piece. The word soundtrack is desperately overused in connection with instrumental music but this would definitely work for a low budget supernatural horror. There are moments of Wicker Man disquiet, although no creepy children’s singing. I can’t stop listening to it and every listen seems to reveal further intriguing depths and hidden corners. As if I didn’t already feel bad enough about dismissing them so out of hand at Supernormal. If I’d only lay down, shut my eyes and sunk into the field I might have been rewarded. On the other hand, I doubt this is really what I would have got. Tomaga are improvisers partly guided by venue and mood as much as anything. This is not a sunny afternoon in a field kind of record, maybe if they’d been playing in the barn. In the aftermath of a storm. The opening bloops and squiggles don’t prepare you for the frantic percussion on ‘Tuscan Metalwork’ which sounds metallic as if played on pipes and glass jars with cutlery. As best I can tell the record is edited and overdubbed from lengthy improvised sessions, the first few tracks running into each other with the sudden snap of the pause button. It brings with it strong images of woods at night or dripping abandoned industrial spaces, there’s rumbling and hissing and scraping. Odd sounds move from left to right and the whole thing sounds great on headphones. The rattling tambourine and looping horn sounds of ‘Stone Comb’ conjur some kind of makeshift parade leading abruptly into the title track a more open and loose limbed thing, if I had to guess I’d say the shape of the dance was a malformed circle. But that’s just me. ‘Scacco Matto’ seems to be entirely built out of textures from overloaded electrical kit but is followed by the fairly serene ‘A Perspective With No End’ which leads out on a strong bass line and sounds almost like something Tortoise might have done 20 years ago. Then it’s back to uneasy squalling ambience for the wonderfully entitled ‘Questionable Art In Public Spaces’. The various ideas and approaches all seem to come together on final track ‘Gonda’s Dream’ and then it’s gone, every time I listen to it it seems short. At just over half an hour I guess it is. Not enough artists know the power of brevity and not overstaying your welcome these days.

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