Toby Driver is a busy man. His avant-garde sound has been spread across a series of projects, and he's never doing downtime. Right off his release with Kayo Dot in 2016, he's back with a record of solo material that's pretty ethereal. Toby Drive offers an atmospheric sound in Madonnawhore that see his sound manifest itself into a noir soundscape.
A lot of Madonnawhore revolves around its atmosphere. First track 'The Scarlet Whore - Her Dealings With The Initiate' is all about its atmosphere, Driver's voice echoing off into oblivion with each word. Everything about the song just fades away into the background, it's minimalism the result of the slow fades of everything. The feeling you get from listening to this record is that of being absorbed into a blackhole. The ferocity of it slowly rips everything apart and slowly they all fade away into nothing - just as Madonnawhore is set up.
The real feeling of that is in 'Avignon.' It's optimistically tragic, and it's the definition of a swallowing feeling. It's Tool atmosphere is complimented by its endless reverb, the dark riffs and melodies fading out depressingly into the blackhole. It's an almost crushing vibe you feel while listening. Nothing feels quite as dark and destructively calm as this track on the rest of the album.
The problem with Madonnawhore is that it's forty minutes of slow-winding tracks that don't really move past the swallowing feeling. It's dramatic and big for the first few tracks, but after awhile it really just feels too mellow. Forty minutes for six tracks is pretty shocking, especially considering each of them is almost exclusively just fading out. There's nothing that really stands out as energetic and makes this album feel a bit slow, especially considering there isn't much growth or movement occurring in the fading out.
Toby Driver created something truly crushing, but all it is is just decay. The sound is great for the first few tracks, but it slowly loses its charm as the sound doesn't change at all as it goes on. Toby Driver offers an atmospheric sound in Madonnawhore but doesn't develop it. If you want to get sucked into a black hole, make sure its not all just a slow decay.
Favorite Track: Avignon
Least Favorite Track: Craven's Den
Rating: 68 / 100
Buy or listen to Madonnawhore here: