Toll Crane – Pink Passport EP

Talha Asim Wynne

Toll Crane is the solo project of Talha Asim Wynne, one of the more prolific musicians of Karachi’s DIY indie and electronic music scene. His work always tends to have a dense metaphorical connection to his city, be it as the member of the noise-pop/shoegaze outfit //orangenoise or with the wild, jazz-inspired eclecticism of his solo venture. It has only been a short time since Talha’s first EP Bébo“a four-day diary” of psychedelic lushness and frenzied transcendentalism — arrived back in 2011, after which 2012’s Dances took these sounds one step further by creating a raw and multi-layered innerspace of jazz grooves and twisted percussive energy.

Talha’s soundscapes seem to get more and more definitive each year – his latest offering, Pink Passport, which also happens to be his first release through the Forever South collective, captures him at his most entrancing and primitive as he spreads his distinct musical debts widely within its narrative. Pink Passport pivots between a blend of jazz and techno and an understated but heady perception of maximal overtones, revealing a dense affinity for rhythms that can be found within the remit of digital distortion.

The opening track, Interconn, dropped last month for streaming in advance of Talha’s new EP, kicks off with anxious sci-fi synths attempting to emulate everything from faint whines and whistling to murky piano vamp. The track sets the bar with its basslines working beneath crude dance hybrids; the frantic noise stabs and bursts of percussion give the track a dark industrial feel, perhaps signifying an MDMA adventure packed to the brim with abstracted twitchiness and narcotic melodies.

Toll Crane

The emotion quickly melts into erratic rhythms and textures as the EP transitions into the unsettling yet propulsive Jackie Brown’s Getaway, in which an array of chime loops, drum kicks, abrasive claps and luscious chords paint a world full of dysfunctional character within the context of wider jazz touchstones. Talha’s microworld is as disarmingly pretty as it is frighteningly unhinged – his music soundtracks a dystopian Karachi reduced to rubble in which he is ostensibly trying to create a sense of fortitude by evoking long-forgotten visual and aural imagery.

This world isn’t too far removed from River Party’s ruffles of depth, crackle and body which follow some indecipherably mesmerizing sequence to set up a complex luster of static hi-hat patterns and buzzing scratches of synths. All these elements are stroked together knowingly in an attempt to find solace in a burned-out shell of a civilization. Things then start out semi-ambient with the gritty and desolate Knights, with its monolithic synths and drones. The EP closer works like an afterthought, with its beats heaving and growling around Wynne’s decidedly raw take on the rhythm.

The record sets up Talha’s dynamic aural world in fine form, and is markedly more ambitious than anything he has done before as all the tracks are molded together to assert a new symphony of dance-embracing shufflers. Pink Passport ultimately doesn’t leave a lot of room for warmth, much like an avant-garde jazz piece creating a rumbling quality of disillusionment. It is a record full of harrowing fractions and shadows modulated by Talha into a throbbing digital workout. Pink Passport’s striking album art in particular, by Samya Arif, showcases a fine balance between the futuristic and idiosyncratic in tinges of pink.

As her artwork suggests, the record is loosely unified under a theme of a forgotten, faraway world sketched through whispers of the pinnacles of jazz. It is colorful and lively on the surface, but closer inspection shows this world to be brutal and ruthlessly experimental, cowering beneath murky skies which cast a desperate humidity over everything. Pink Passport’s mercurial world ultimately signifies inorganic ambience in a collection of songs grounded in the drunken swing of forgotten realities.

written by Zoya Rehman

NEWS - 24. April 2013   CITY - Karachi ARTIST - Toll Crane

One response to “Toll Crane – Pink Passport EP”

  1. Samya says:

    <3 Toll 'n Zo