We’ve already lamented the announcement last year that Edinburgh-based Song, By Toad Records was calling it a day. If this is its last release then it’s appropriate that its one of its signature split 12″s. (Although don’t be fooled, it’s a 12-song album.) The idea is simple and speaks to the heart of the label. Find bands and musicians who you like and make really good music, get them round the house as and when you can, record a few songs and put them together on a release.
But slightly ad hoc and shambling as that process might sound (and indeed be), the ‘putting them together on a release’ bit is done with real love and care. Each of those 12″s is a lovely artefact and the music is far from just thrown together. The four artists on this release don’t just share a nationality. (All Canadian – Song, By Toad has a track record of showcasing Canadian bands -Mr Toad himself being partly of Canadian stock.) A stark and somewhat sombre folk sensibility runs through all the songs. There’s many a single artist album with less flow and coherence.
Woodpigeon are perhaps the best known, their tunes are the most filled out sound on the record driven by insistent if muted rhythms. FOONYAP has played with Woodpigeon. The loops she uses have a similar repetitive effect, but married to her violin and vocals create something lulling and warmly immersive. LT Leif are a little more mannered, their carefully constructed songs carry a delicate, almost clockwork charm. The last of the quartet is Dana Gavanski. Just her and a guitar, there’s an old-fashioned, but not that old-fashioned, feel to her terrific songs, like a lost cousin to the Watersons.
Together they make a fitting swansong for a label that really has lived the cliché of being all about the music. It might be going out gently rather than with a bang. But it’s going out with a genuinely beautiful record.
Order the album here.