Todd Tobias – Impossible Cities

An instrumental LP (influenced by Italo Calvino’s book Invisible Cities), with each track named after an imaginable city, heads in one of two directions. Pure bizarreness, or pure intelligence. The auditory factors walk the path of intelligence, while the album’s idea, feels closer to the bizarre. The behemoth of heavy rock throughout, diminishes the thought of Positive Haywires (from his Brother Earth work) creeping into Tobias’ solo work completely. A platonic relationship between the two LP’s, creates a darker, yet attainable edge to Impossible Cities, lurking further into the realms of corrupted hallucinations.

The notion that Impossible Cities should be a soundtrack rather than an official LP, is one you’ll soon become trapped in, once you get about four tracks in.

On the fourth track Somna, individual, lingering guitar tones create an unwanted tension, becoming more eerie as the progression moves towards the following track Dravidia, where each few seconds become more and more intense before silence breaks for Gorgum Reeth.

Within Gorgum Reeth, nothing feels safe. Each of the 121 seconds is surrounded by a deep fog of unsettling noise, closest to a ship’s fog horn, warning of the consistency of corrupted hallucinations within the LP.

Notably on Smazbaal, the notion of these corrupted hallucinations is inescapable. Paranoia becomes deeply settled, as this near five-minute track creates an uncomfortable nostalgia to classic horror, where nothing is over-processed, and each moment of terror is carefully planned rather than regularly followed. It’s an uncomfortable, sadistic piece, but equally intoxicating at the same time.

Epyminion and Akrova are as recognisable to a movie plot as the boyfriend being the psycho, mass murderer. While unrelated to the thought of evil completely, Epyminion provides the eerie uplifting end to a horror film, that Akrova gradually completes. Both tracks distance themselves from the recognisable, darker themes of the LP’s tracks. Instead, they create a new darkness, that relies upon the unease from the pleasantness of ambient tones, attempting to deceive you in a state of contentedness, diverting you from the current state of a dystopic reality.

Entirely, Impossible Cities, is malicious. Like a vampire in a 20th century horror, preying upon the feeble willed, it’s inevitable the unappealing end will come for the pursued. This discomfort in being positioned as the target becomes oddly enjoyable, as when fully immersed in the LP’s sixteen tracks, well practised organisation across all platforms, becomes the only factor that appears apparent. A soundtrack rather than an album, Impossible Cities would feature happily alongside the neurotic sounds, of fear induced screams.


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