luscious soundscapes crumble into heavyweight hip-hop beats” – Siobhán Kane on Toby Kaar’s EP release gig last Friday

Toby Kaar‘s Gumbrielle EP was a long time in the making, released on music/is/ for/losers earlier in the year, it is a playful, serious and intelligent piece of work. Made on a “9 year old computer, which has started to pack in”, Kaar found lots of the samples in libraries. His choice of samples intrigue, providing an evocative journey, from “jazz blogs to Asian supermarkets”.

At the Workmans tonight, it is both Kaar’s talent as a selector and artist that is on display. Nestled amid his own work (older and new), there are so many other influences and references sneaking in, at different turns throughout his set, Fela Kuti and J Dilla came to mind, Madlib, MF Doom – idiosyncratic, seminal artists.

He veers from simple, sparse minimalism to maximalism in his set, luscious soundscapes crumble into heavyweight hip-hop beats, then morph into leaner territory. The glorious Snapdragon makes an early appearance, and live it just soars, with its cut-up staccato-like nature, it is one of my favourite compositions in recent times, so richly rendered.

But really, all of Kaar’s work is so rich, and his EP is the culmination of years of work. Gumbrielle took around 5 years to write, and Kaar has previously described the work as one piece, evolving and emerging, changing shape.This idea of the shape of music is something that resonates with Kaar, and that translates live – there is a symbiotic relationship between tactility and chaos (embodied in something like One for Bogie) that could only really come with that point of view.There is also a really appealing physicality to the way he performs his work live, completely immersed, only breaking the spell at different turns to shout “we got this” into the microphone.

While Kaar has built his reputation on his live sets, which tonight solidifies, it is with his EP that he compounds his position as a serious artist, with something genuinely interesting to say.

https://tobykaar.bandcamp.com