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Tonochrome - 2018 - "A Map In Fragments"

(41:35: Bad Elephant Music)


1. The Ridge 4:10
2. Interlude 1 1:26
3. Border Crossings 5:28
4. Interlude 2 0:31
5. Tighter 3:54
6. Disputed Area 5:03
7. Interlude 3 1:07
8. Kilometre Zero 2:02
9. Just Like Us 3:37
10. Humbled and Broken 5:39
11. The Gates 3:58
12. Missing Piece 4:40


Andres Razzini - vocals, guitars
Charlie Cawood - guitars
Jack Painting - drums
Steve Holmes - keyboards, programming
Alon Morgan - bass
Vera Jonas - vocals
Clarice Rarity - violin
Sarah Hill - violin
Sophie Broadbent - viola
Axelle Bastiani - violoncello
Lucy Brown - French horn
Emily McMillan - French horn
Sam Calcott - trumpet
Mickey Bones - trombone
Becky Brass - vibraphone 

Prolusion. UK based band Tonochrome was formed back in 2011, and at the onset at least as the creative vehicle of composer and musician Andres Razzini. This venture turned into a band effort, and in 2012 they released their initial EP "Tonochrome", and the following year their second EP "Interference". The band's full length debut album "A Map in Fragments" dates back to 2018, and was released through UK label Bad Elephant Records.

Analysis. If one word should summarize the impression I get from the exploits of Tonochrome, that world would be eclectic. Their approach to and execution of progressive rock is one that takes them in many different directions, and often along some unusual pathways at that. And while they generally stay away from the more avant-oriented landscapes, this is music that comes with its challenging sides and dimensions. A liberal use of string and brass instruments give many of the songs a chamber music or orchestral feel to them for starters. The same instruments in other settings will provide more of a folk music touch and later on also a bit more of a jazzrock emphasis, but it is the chamber music and orchestral input from the string and brass instruments that in my opinion is the most striking feature here. The core and foundation of the compositions here will often have a more careful singer/songwriter orientation, where the string instruments and brass details will come with their specific flavoring as described, and the songs may otherwise move into jazzrock landscapes or psychedelic territories and occasionally also segue over to a more distinct rock orientation. We get a few compositions here that combine funky elements and a bit of a jazz undercurrent inside of a more defined rock content and framework, and while other songs move in different directions the type of style combinations the band execute here is a bit indicative of the approach explored on other songs here too. The exceptions are a small handful of atmospheric interludes spread throughout this album, and while they are far from one-dimensional they do focus on a smaller range and spectrum of style elements due to the specific role they have as transitional phases. The only slight weak point I took note of here is that the vocals aren't always on the same level as the music and musicianship. This is a minor element though, and only present in a few of the songs.

Conclusion. Tonochrome's debut album strikes me as a lively and multidimensional creation that should be of interest to progressive rock fans with a more eclectic and inclusive taste in music. While the songs are melody and harmony-oriented, the many layers and alterations in style and orientation in the single compositions as well as through the album as a whole makes this a production that demands a degree of dedication from the listener, and for many this will be a fairly challenging listen too. Orchestral and chamber music flavored landscapes with a singer/songwriter foundation of sorts and a jazzrock undercurrent with occasional left turns into classic rock territories is what we get here, and if that sounds interesting you'll most likely get a lot out of exploring this production.

Progmessor: February 2023
The Rating Room

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