Review: Crewdson’s Toys

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There’s music making pre and post tech. The prior relies quite heavily on the imagination. The latter relies on accessibility. For Crewdon, aka Hugh Jones, life sits somewhere in the middle – in which he has taken on role as tech totalitarian, building a myriad of weird and wonderful hardware electronic musical instruments such as The Odd Box, The Concertronica, The Eggiophone and The Sonic Bonnet.

Injecting a life force through his craft, he has made a concerted effort into utilising these instruments to make a sound that fits the texture and engagement, to welcome these toys into the momentum he builds for them. What a fitting name Toys becomes, a great title for a debut album, as his objects quite literally become an extension of the relationship he shares with his creations, his production methods and sound.

‘Saxbell’ combines the grace of jazz inflected harmony, a shaped ting of a bell in the background and a subtle percussive element, soothing the mood forward. His trademark skewed electronics and tumbling beats is informed by the harmonic, lyrical and sonic ideas found in folk music, fusing the archaic and the futuristic.

He uses The Concertronica to perform the rich sonic textures of processed violins on the track ‘Bottle Rain Smoke’, a nostalgic swansong to the rave culture of his youth re-framed as a time-stretched folkloric memory, which glitches at the most opportune time as the track progresses, giving it the friction as an overlay to the vocal fluidity.

‘Eyes in The Back of Your Head’ is a kind of folkloric comedy/horror set to a loping electronic groove whose episodic narrative tells the tale of six disappearing men and their ultimate discovery having escaped their wives’ cries and taken refuge in alcohol – strangely reminiscent of the cross-genre experimentation of Ben Wheatley’s hallucinatory historical drama ‘A Field in England’.

His highly skilled and inventive production draws on a myriad of post-rave styles – garage, dubstep, techno, broken beats – and comparisons can be made to the electronic explorations of the likes of Flying Lotus, Polar Bear, Fourtet; plus contemporaries Mount Kimbie, Micachu and Jon Hopkins’ work with King Creosote – but the manner in which he assembles his choppy beats, skittering electronics and trademark collage of treated percussion and found sound results in music that stands out as unmistakably his own.