Exposé Online banner

The Golden Age of Steam — Tomato Brain
(Bandcamp Limited Noise, 2020, CD / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-12-09

Tomato Brain Cover art

Saxophonist James Allsopp is a member of both Snack Family and World Sanguine Report, and The Golden Age of Steam finds him in the leadership role of a band including Ruth Goller (bass, vocals), Time Giles (drums, electronics, vocals), Alex Bonney (electronics, vocals), and Kit Downes (keyboards, vocals). The album at hand takes its name from an Ivor Cutler song which they interpret, taking a brief, whimsical tune and working it into a highly experimental eight minutes of voices, sound effects, electronic strangeness, atmospheric organ, and wandering saxophone. But the bulk of Tomato Brain is in fact a piece called “Loftopus,” a half-hour composition which is divided into six parts. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to “Loftopus,” and I have to say that I’ve yet to get a handle on it. The pervasive sounds come from the electronics, with a noticeable resemblance to pre-digital experimental electronic music. Oscillators moan and bleep, filters wobble and sweep, and unidentifiable things echo in a spacious void; an indistinct voice speaks in the distance. In part 2, Allsopp’s sax and Goller’s bass play loosely coordinated parts, wandering melodies that avoid establishing a clear tonality while the electronics continue. As part 3 begins, a pedal tone emerges in the bass, and keyboard notes punctuate the upper frequencies, and it’s a little like early Pink Floyd in a very spacious free improvisation. The next part brings in the drums, with a minimalist beat that bass and droning synths join with. Eventually a kind of droning wall of notes emerges and the sax introduces a melodic phrase that gets echoed and fragmented by the bass. The energy slowly builds, with the drums adding in more elements and the sax getting more assertive, and organ joins in, creating an odd hybrid of spiritual jazz, space rock, and experimental electronics. When I said I haven’t got a handle on this music, I see that as a very good thing. There’s so much music in the world that sounds like things I’ve heard before that I’m very pleased to hear something really different, something new, even something odd and confusing.


Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): The Golden Age of Steam

More info
http://thegoldenageofsteam.bandcamp.com/album/tomato-brain

Latest news

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Maryam Mursal - The Journey – Maryam Mursal is a singer from Somalia now exiled and living in Denmark. Somali music, like the country itself, is a unique mixture of African and Arabic. On this release, Mursal approaches her...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues