Tonto’s Expanding Head Band albums

 

  • Best band name ever!

 

 

 

1971

Zero Time4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

 

 

With a band name like Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, the mission of this band is obviously to be on the outskirts of mainstream music. Malcolm Cecil (bass) and Robert Margouleff (keyboard) make music that is interested with futuristic sounds and pushing the envelope in terms of what constitutes a song. Listening to the album in the 21srt century, it sounds incredibly modern, as most have us have loops and “sound effects” like the ones Tonto painfully programmed themselves pre-programmed into our computers that we can manipulate to our will. Much of the album produces tones that could be described as melancholy or mysterious, such as the touching “Aurora” and aptly titled “Rivers Song”, the latter of which is an eight-minute native American inspired vision of a fever dream. With only six songs on the entire record, each moment matters, and the first two tracks may actually be the weakest with “Jetsex” being the only one I would say is a failed experiment.

      The music is probably best classified as psychedelic because the possibilities of interpretation are limitless. Tonto predates many of the genres of the 1970’s, with opener “Cyberbaut” being a dead ringer for what The Residents would sound like in a couple of years; “Timewhys” has a melodic center that is a perfect example of what Penguin Café orchestra would later champion with its bouncing almost chipper attitude. Best of all, album closer “Tama” is a moving space ballad, showing there is no limit to the soundscapes Margouleff’s keyboard can produce, similar to the “cosmic music” movement out of Germany around the same time period with bands like Popul Vuh and Tangerine dReam. The entire project also is the perfect warm up to Brian Eno’s ambient music later in the decade and Tonto would go on to win Grammys bringing this sound to Stevie Wonder’s masterful LP’s, Talking Book and Innervisions. When music like this is made, completely keyboard and bass driven, it causes one to ask the question: is it still Rock n’ Roll without guitars and vocals?