Toy – Pinhdar

Toy – Pinhdar

Produced in Italy 2019 – reached No 3 in NBTMusicRadio’s best tracks of 2019.

MartinNBT

When choosing the songs that NBT thought were a good showcase of song writing, producing and performance skills, one of the main guidelines was, does this get under your skin?  Do you find yourself singing it as you go shopping, (or NOT going shopping a few months later while under lockdown)  The key, for this listener anyway, is how perfectly it is firstly arranged, and then secondly, the subtle production that never calls attention to itself.  Just as the best special effect is one you do not even realize IS a special effect.  This creation is the type of song I have always called ‘dense’ (dictionary meaning: “closely compacted in substance”).  An older example of this was the Simple Minds tune ‘Promised You A Miracle’ or even the Police’s ‘Message In A Bottle’ and slightly more up to date, Arctic Monkey’s ‘Fluorescent Adolescent’.  Musically, here is a lot going on, driving rhythms counterpointed by a lilting vocal melody, the tune grows in energy and intensity, without succumbing to the over-dramatic.  It is that sweetest contradiction, gently epic.  It is also that rarest of beasts – a 5 minute song that FEELS like it is a three minute pop classic.

Sparky

I liked the clean production right from the start of this song.  The way the song starts with that sort of rimshot beat mixed in with that picking guitar and the big jangly chords actually reminded me of that Foals song, ‘Inhaler’.  The track comes in pretty soon with a strong melody line and I love the way the single voice is supported by a whispered backing vocal, brought up in the mix. Nice effect that.  I wasn’t immediately humming it, but I can say, after hearing it once (for the first time), I recognised it immediately when it played on NBTMusicRadio the next day.  Now, after listening to the song several times, I can attest to the fact that it is a “grower”.  A right little germinating earworm of a song!  How did YOU first come across it?

MartinNBT

Well the album kinda got submitted to NBT twice, the 1st time in April last year by the PR Company High Violet, who consistently sends me great indie stuff.  The way that releases work via a ‘gateway’ like a PR bunch or a distribution firm, is they TELL you who they think the band sounds like, this is totally understandable, though not always accurate, but if a PR firm tells me the act sounds like, say Kid Rock, then they have simply saved me the trouble of going through the process any further ha ha.  In this instance my curiosity was peaked cause they wrote that the duo sounded like Portishead and Unkle, bands I like quite a lot, I am not sure about that comparison though, what do YOU think?  I learned that this was the duo’s second outfit, and though based in Italy they had extensive and ‘intense’ tours in the USA and England, even playing in the infamous CBGBs.  I also learned that they curate ‘A Night Like This’ Music festival situated in the farmland between Milan and Turin.  A little secret which might horrify all the wonderful PR companies NBT deals with, I usually do not pay attention to just the ‘plug’ track, (i.e. the so called ‘single’) and prefer to download the entire album, then listen to the whole thing and choose for myself what songs I think are going to connect with my listeners.  For me though, yup Toy was going to be in high rotation.  Then later in the year, the guys (Cecilia and Max) got in touch, personally after following NBT on Instagram, and I was very happy to tell them, that not only were they already playlisted, but Toy was being considered very favourably for and in the ‘best of 2019’ charts I was busy working through.

Sparky

Well, I don’t know enough about Unkle, but I can definitely hear a similarity to Portishead.  A tranquil yet crisp semi-electronic darkness suffused with a strong female vocal performance.  I guess I’d stand with the PR Company on that score.  And there IS a subtle darkness, for all its clean production sound.  That may emanate from the lyrical theme more than the music itself, and the video certainly lends itself to this.  I read that Cecelia and Max had previously been involved in a rock band called ‘Nomoredolls’ so I watched their YouTube video, ‘Killers’ and the duo have certainly moved more in a Portishead direction. There is quite a nice ‘gliding’ bass sound in ‘Toy’ and I wonder if Max was the bassist in the previous band.  I guess it matters not.  The instrumentation in ‘Toy’ is quite lush overall.  There are very subtle keyboard washes that I only noticed after a few listens.  Sort of soaring sounds that float in the background, quietly complementing the guitar, bass and percussion, which are quite prominent but not in any way overbearing.  All in all, a very nice mix.

MartinNBT

I will finish off my side of this, with two things.  Cecilia and Max along with Dave Robinson from the band Angry Saints really did so much to get the NBT vs The Virus thing going, introducing me to some thirteen indie bands covering all genres, and allowing NBT to showcase acts from Italy and Spain, which when we started, were hectically affected by Covid and in severe lockdown.  I never got the chance to develop that project further (not enough hours in the day sadly, but all the bands are still playlisted) but what an amazing bunch of musicians.  You briefly mentioned the video for Toy.  Another standard NBT practice which possibly would horrify the PR peeps, is I try if at all possible to avoid the promo vids, until the songs are safely playlisted within the 24/7 stream.  My logic for this, is people listening to any given track at any given time, are hearing only the audio, and so when choosing which songs will be played, it must be the same criteria.  But when I did get to see the video, I was intrigued and disturbed and touched in equal measure.  Believing that one should never ask the actual artist what they meant or intended with their art, I can ask YOU what you thought of the piece.  So the final thoughts from you!

Sparky

Well, I liked the video a lot, and as I listened to the song more and more, I also watched the video more and more.  I noticed different things each time, seeing many little things that I had previously missed.  My general impression was that it mirrored the lyrical theme of the song and seemed to suggest that a person could be (and often would be) abused in many ways by other people – this was seen in the video several times on different levels through the people in the art gallery interacting with the singer/exhibit.  Abuse comes from everybody – children, men, women, young, old; and on many levels – from “grabbing a selfie” to some quite violent actions in some cases.  However, unlike you, I don’t have any reservations in asking the artist and so asked Max Tarenzi about this.  When I told him what I thought, he said “That’s exactly the point”, and explained that the song pictures a “noir” situation, leading to a worst case scenario.  Of the video, he added: “…this takes the subject to a further step of representing different forms of violence, both physical and psychological, in our modern society”.  And so with that agreement, I will bow out of the conversation and commend both the song and supporting video to the house.

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