Review by Stephen Dalton for The Times
Review by Ross Cotton for Brumlive
As a lover of gadgets, unique instruments and all things experimental, the alluring and literally electrifying line up of Micronormous and Modified Toy Orchestra was more than I could withhold.
Marvelling us into a state of relaxation in the bellowing Town Hall, Micronormous took upon a journey along the far stretches of the world. Expressing, wonder, amazement as well as both fear and sadness, Matt Eaton leapt from the oriental culture to the completely unknown, with the use of samples, synths and thumb pianos. Complete with Film Ficciones visuals, Eaton’s blend of beauty and horror became deepened into almost subliminal messages, like the far gone cult era of flashing images.The projections grew and entwined into the music, as Micronormous entered intense jazz, giant eyes and fearful faces began to clutter the screen, portraying an uneasy, unpredictable atmosphere that sent out shivers, with similarities to Sun Ra. While elegant ballet dancers dragged the feeling straight back into heaven, with soft synth sounds and the Hawaiian-like echoing slide guitar. Adventuring all genres of music, Micronormous is abled to entangle the magical sounds of the sea, combined with burlesque and the crackles of the medieval times, leaving no stone untouched in the music world.
By now, the electronics were fully warmed up for quirky six piece Modified Toy Orchestra. Suited up with matching outfits head to toe, the circuit benders immediately ignited their visual aesthetics with Kraftwerk-esque incision. Performing ‘Great Kings Fall’ for the first time in the UK, the audience were certainly in for a treat. A robust sound of toy guns, beeps and playtime began to fill the Town Hall, as the live performance enhanced the MTO experience a hundred times better than on CD. Leaving fans entranced and transfixed upon each member’s timing and precision to create such a wonderful, incomparable sound, backed up with projective visual beauty. The space age ‘Earth One’ brought a vibrant story of a green to grey world, as the toys swirl into a darker, more serious twist, surrounding the effects of humanity. With slower, hypnotic, deep drum beats, clanging toy sounds and swooping industrial noises, MTO provided a meaningful Earth-changing realisation behind their usual, quirky and fun-filled exterior, revealing a completely different and unique side to the orchestra.
Leader Brian Duffy’s humour and constant interaction with his fans gave a homely and warm feeling inside, a notion which is rarely fulfilled when watching live performances, developing a keen relationship and better understanding behind the music itself. With a rocket that can count up to ten in different languages, a toy guitar, a Speak and Spell and a creepy-looking Hula Barbie, no Orchestra comes anywhere close to being like Modified Toy Orchestra.