Top Dollar

Toby Dammit

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Top Dollar Review

by Tim DiGravina

Having worked with the innovative likes of Swans and Iggy Pop, drummer Larry Mullins uses the alias Toby Dammit on Top Dollar to milk his own inspirations. Those astute in cinema 101 or just pop culture in general might know that Toby Dammit is the name of a darkly stylish cult Federico Fellini short film starring Terence Stamp. On more than a few of Top Dollar's tracks, Toby Dammit lives up to the spirit of Fellini's surreal adventure. Mullins frames the entire album with the exhilarating and maddening sounds of a percussion section turned evil. Noisy samples of voices, drag races, sirens, and other found sounds blend in with freakout drum solos, trippy and skittering grooves, and staccato percussion in creating twisted chill-out music best suited for hyperactive individuals. Coming across at different times like a mad mix of Luke Vibert's humorous sci-fi electronica, the jazzy spy music drum'n'bass of Squarepusher, and some sort of tropical fusion orchestra, Top Dollar never fails in its exuberance or its eclectic charm. Mullins is more than just an adrenaline junky, though, as he knows when to take things down a notch, perhaps best witnessed in the Seefeel-meets-Neotropic-meets-Miles Davis experimentation of "Malmö Nocturne (Månsson's Theme)." If a few of the tracks have the feel of extended intros and outros, there's still enough interesting sonic trickery going on that the album could hardly be considered dull. Noisy, intelligent, and chugging along to the beat of its own drum, Top Dollar is certainly one fascinating journey.

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