Vital Weekly

Now that virtually everyone plays with modular synthesizers, it’s time to look for the
early adapters (for no particular reason). Rafael Toral is such an artist who has been
using modules since many years now, actually since 2004, I believe, and he does something
that the others don’t do: he incorporates into the world of free jazz. He released a
couple of CDs on Staubgold (see Vital Weekly 542, 734 and 787) of himself on the synth
and a bunch of other musicians on other instruments. It was quite a radical break with
his earlier drone guitar music. I wasn’t enamoured by the first release, but Dolf Mulder
enjoyed the two albums that came after that. Still, it was all quite some time ago, and
Toral is still playing his free jazz modular synth music, and is about to tour the USA
again and for this occasion he has a new release out, a thirty-one minute concert he
played in 2010 at All Tomorrow’s Parties with drummer Alfonso Simoes. Partly out of
curiosity to see what he does with modular synthesizers compared to the current wave,
and partly to see if I like it more, I played this tape and I must say I enjoy it to
some great extent. Maybe it’s the reduction in instruments, just drums and synth, and
not the extended jazz ensemble, which makes everything much cruder in approach. Simões
bangs his kit in a furious way, while Toral goes deep with a set of menacing tones,
quite harsh at times, especially on the B-side, towards the end of his live set. An
excellent set was played that night and now released for posterity.
Frans de Waard