Space Explorations in Post-Free electronics

Live performance on portable, hand-held custom electronic instruments, with an approach that is a heir of post-free jazz culture (the press has likened it to Bill Dixon or Don Cherry, although any such association is very abstract because the electronics have an experimental nature). The performing approach is also physical and responsive in a way typical of an instrument player like a saxophonist and unlike typical approaches to electronics like sitting down with laptops or synths.


Rafael Toral, born in Lisbon, 1967 has been intrigued by the potential of sound and the functions of music since he was a teenager. As a composer and performer, he has been deeply involved with Rock, Ambient, Contemporary, Electronic and Free Jazz music in different periods of his life.

Working with electric guitar and electronics, in the 1990’s he created a blend of Ambient and Rock and recorded acclaimed albums like Wave Field or Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance. By the early 2000’s he arrived to a sense of accomplishment about his previous 15 years of work, also realizing the world needed a different creative response. He decided to start something new, as radically different from the previous phase as possible. In a transition to vulnerable action, he launched the alien-sounding Space Program in 2004, using experimental electronic instruments. It’s been an ambitious long-term project exploring an approach to electronic music based on silence, through decision making and physical gesture, in a way inspired by post-free Jazz. The resulting music, “melodic without notes, rhythmic with no beat, familiar but strange, meticulous but radically free – riddled with paradox but full of clarity and space”, has been described as “a brand of electronic music far more visceral and emotive than that of his cerebral peers”.

In the last 15 years he’s been thinking and practicing an understanding of silence as “space”, with a clear function in music creation but also as a metaphor for social relationships and a statement on information and sensory overload.

Performing solo or in numerous collaborations (including Jim O’Rourke, Jim Baker, Sei Miguel, Chris Corsano, John Edwards, Evan Parker, Tatsuya Nakatani, Manuel Mota, Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, Christian Marclay, Sonic Youth, Rhys Chatham, Lee Ranaldo, C Spencer Yeh, and many others), he has been touring throughout Europe, Canada, USA, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

Also active in visual and spatial arts, Toral has produced video and several installations from 1994 to 2003.
From 2017 on, having concluded the Space Program’s recording series, Toral is entering a new phase, integrating more elements in a wider field with multiple directions and possibilities.


DISCOGRAPHY (selection)

Space Quartet, Clean Feed 2018
Saturn, Pássaro Vago 2018
Moon Field, Room 40 2017
Space Solo 2, Staubgold 2017
Live in Minneapolis, Clean Feed  2012
Space Elements Vol. III, Staubgold/ Taiga 2011
Space Elements Vol. II, Staubgold / Taiga 2010
Space Elements Vol. I, Staubgold / Taiga 2008
Space, Staubgold/ Taiga 2008
Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance, Touch 2001
Wave Field, Moneyland 1995/ Dexter’s Cigar 1998/ Drag City 2018
Sound Mind Sound Body, Ananana 1994/ Moikai 2000/ Drag City 2018



Rafael Toral solo in Brussels
Rafael Toral and Afonso Simões live at ATP, Minehead, UK
Rafael Toral and Ryan Jewell live at Oberlin, OH, USA


Press quotes

Timeless, and at the same time totally up to the minute. Amazing. 
Foxy Digitalis

Plenty of people say that they make creative music — Rafael Toral delivers it. 
Dusted magazine

A devastatingly visceral listening experience. 

Toral is looking for nothing less than a totally fresh language to work in. 
The Wire

This is experimental electronic music operating at a higher level of deliberation and thoughtfulness than nearly everything else in sound synthesis and free improvisation. 
Foreign Accents