Saturday, February 6, 2010

Musical Interlude: Tones on Tail

"Rain":



The video was created by a fan named Isabel Dhampir, who does a nice job capturing the flavor of the tune with a beautiful series of still photos. I always found the piece to be quite uplifting, and ideal night music - especially on those rainy nights during southern California's winter and early spring months. The tune has an almost ambient quality to it in the beginning, before bass, drums, and vocals emerge to pick up the pace just a bit. Even then, there's a soothing quality to the sound.

Tones on Tail started out as a sort of side project formed by Daniel Ash and roadie Glenn Campling in 1982 when they were still with Bauhaus. When that group folded, Kevin Haskins joined. Tones on Tail would record from 1982 through 1984, before Ash and Haskins formed Love and Rockets. I'm sure I owe some friend somewhere thanks for including some of ToT's music on a mix tape, thus inspiring me to seek out whatever was available on vinyl (their one album was simply titled Pop), and then later CD (I still have the compilation Night Music that was released in the late 1980s, which has since been superseded by 1998's Everything).

Their music is not easily classifiable. I know that at least among my circle of friends, goths were the most likely to know about ToT and to appreciate their work. But it wasn't really goth music per se. Yes, ToT's tunes tended toward the dark and moody side, sometimes danceable, sometimes paranoid and abrasive, but they were really quite mellow and impressionistic relative to, say, Bauhaus. There was probably more in common with contemporary 1980s artists on the British-based 4AD label (e.g., Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Dif Juz) and some of Eno's mid-to-late 1970s solo work, or perhaps some of the artists on the One Little Indian label (Flux's Uncarved Block perhaps, and of course - to me - A.R.Kane's late 1980s work). Fans of some of the darker 1990s ambient or trip hop artists might find plenty to like as well.

The lyrics (courtesy of another fan video of the song):
ooh the rain
ooh the rain

she said, time to crush this feeling
writing very long letters as soon as it rains
ooh the rain
ooh the rain

to dance the night away
he watches topless pin-up faces
a million different jackpots
with a thousand different gazes

ooh the rain
ooh the rain
ooh the rain
ooh the rain

but it's time to crush this feeling
as soon as it rains
ooh the rain
but it's time to crush this feeling
as soon as it rains
ooh the rain

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