The aptly named Toy are a duo consisting of Norwegian producer Jørgen Traeen and British composer Alisdair Stirling, who create abundantly whimsical electronic whirligigs and cartoonish instrumental creampuffs, offering a Scandinavian twist on the stylistic tradition that runs from Raymond Scott and Bruce Haack to Cornelius and Wagon Christ. Traeen, who hails from Bergen and runs the noted Duper Studios there (home to Röyksopp, among others), boasts a production résumé including records by his countrymen Jaga Jazzist, Sondre Lerche, Magnet, and Ralph Myerz & the Jack Herren Band, as well as a 2002 album of eclectic IDM under the alias Sir Dupermann. Stirling is a Londoner whose initially solo House of Hiss project, another outlet for his soundtrack-influenced pop stylings, expanded to include the Bergen production duo Sensible Twins and eventually Traeen as well, resulting in the 2006 debut album/grab-bag Greatest Hiss. In the meantime, the Traeen and Stirling hooked up as Toy, letting their retro-fangled kiddie pop sensibilities run wild on a few 7" singles and then a delirious self-titled 2005 album for Smalltown Supersound. Bergen-based pop singer Annie helped introduce Toy to international audiences by opening her installment in the DJ-Kicks series with their single "Rabbit Pushing Mower"; the band returned in 2007 with the Half Baked Alaska EP, including a new song, a High Llamas remix, and four live versions of tunes from the debut, re-created with a ten-person electronic organ ensemble.
by K. Ross Hoffman