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London duo TOMAGA create darkly experimental music on their debut LP, Futura Groteska. It sounds like the soundtrack to some 1970s Italian horror film full of strange psychedelic scenes of lizards eating pigs or something of the like. It’s disconcerting but with a really solid percussive feel which keeps things grinding onward nicely. For fans of bands such as Demdike Stare’s creepy worlds.

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Futura Grotesk by TOMAGA 1 review. Add your own review. 7/10
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7/10 Staff review, 13 November 2014

Tomaga’s dark experimental surges are reactive and physical, the kind that make you imagine artists at work, hunched over one of those classic low-budget noise tables, lording over their chaotic collection of equipment and twisting each knob to its noisiest end. I am describing a night at Leeds’ Wharf Chambers, I know, but that’s the image conjured by abstract opener “Taste The Indifference”, which ruminates on bitty feedback and tries out a few different sound snaps before leading into the record’s first real composition, “Mountain Opener”. It’s a dungeon of sound, caged away from melody and rhythm, and it’s only occasionally escaped through the run-time ‘Futura Grotesk’.

Working with little more than percussion and synthwork, Tomaga’s sound is minimal, and only subliminally noisy: it’s not too much to take, but rather a lot to take in, moving from shuffling drums and whistling ambience on “Mountain Opener” to a flatlining, unmoved drone on “Days Like They Were Before”, which sounds kind of like a Pharmakon song with all the scary parts taken out: no industrial vibes, no screaming, nothing but that dead space in the background.

When the record merely drones, Tomaga feel like patients in a waiting room, so it’s best when they’re more invigorated, when the atmosphere becomes more persuasive. Scenes unfold beautifully on tracks like “Alphabet of Night”, which mix organic and programmed beats in with ambience that feels like it’s been breathed out by a hyperventilating prison breaker. “Long Term Green” evokes the same physical vividness, beginning with the sounds of a distress signal being dialled in a moment of panic. It’s in these moments, where ‘Futura Grotesk’ has plotlines and fears, that it works best.


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