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TOBY DRIVER & NICK HUDSON - Black Feather Under Your Tongue

Imagine you are on a short trip from freshly brexited UK to New York to see one of only a handful of reunion shows of Mr. Bungle! What do you do on the day after? Stay in bed with a headache? Visit Liberty Island?

Nick Hudson (most prominently known for filming a fan throwing his dead friend's ashes on stage at said show) had other plans. He entered a studio together with Toby Driver (a Brooklyn local mentioned here and there in this blog from time to time) and they recorded an improvised dark ambient record, which has been released digitally on bandcamp a couple of days later.

TOBY DRIVER & NICK HUDSON - Black Feather Under Your Tongue (download) (2020)

All four tracks (average length about eleven minutes) feature Driver on guitar and Hudson on either piano or vocals.

"Black Ecstasy" is a dark meandering of the two instruments, mellow yet suspenseful, strings and keys both pending between minimalistic soundtrack vibes and baroque beauty. The piano also reminds me a lot of Tori Amos' most "classical" instrumentals.

Even if you don't know either Nick or Toby you probably have guessed by now that they are quite experimental musicians.

And if you didn't know that Nick is a Diamanda Galas super fan, after listening to "First Was The Word Was The Virus" you'll have no doubt. While Toby provides a backdrop of slow johnzornish / kayodotian doom jazz, Nick sings wordless in his low and middle register, whispers, staccato-breathes, does all kinds of weird spooky noises. And the two are communicating so good in this one - it's marvellous.

Of course (and here the Bungle circle closes) you can also attribute a good part of the vocal performance to the influence of mighty Mike Patton, and this is all the more true for the third track "When I Saw The Star", where the singing meditates on a couple of actual lyrical verses and Nick goes into a crooning style somewhere between Patton and Brandon Perry (Dead Can Dance). Meanwhile Toby Driver mixes his typical relaxed Dot advantgarde with passages akin to certain Asian post rock artists.

In the last track "Martial Hauntology" the piano finally returns for the most minimalistic jam, a laid back drone for anyone who feels that the new Bohren & der Club of Gore is way too wild.

But seriously: "Black Feather Under Your Tongue" is a great recording, which sets its own special mood and has just the right playing time not to overstay its welcome.

So far I've always enjoyed seeing the musical chemistry of these two guys together on stage and it's more than nice to hear this impression backed up with this album.

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