Toby Driver as Alora Crucible/Daniel O’Sullivan at Cafe Oto, London, March 23rd, 2022 – By the time Alora Crucible begin, London is weirdly, appropriately hushed, the air thickened by Saharan dust. Alora Crucible is a trio led by composer/multi-instrumentalist Toby Driver, completed by Ana Cristina Perez on keyboards and violinist Timba Harris (Secret Chiefs 3, Igorrr). Driver is best known for the extraordinary and indefinable Kayo Dot, a that embraces evolving, cinematic songs that sometime run a vast gamut of human emotion in in one work, a whisper to a scream or vice versa or there and back; Alora Crucible distils the quieter, most intimate parts of these journeys. Almost, but not entirely instrumental: the meditative, contemplative passages.
Even within that remit, the music of Alora Crucible has as much depth and breadth – great sweeps of emotion, simultaneously introspective and connected to a vast sublime landscape. So it’s a joy to find that live, the trio are utterly involved in the emotion of this, telepathically engaged and mesmerising to watch. This is music only playable by means of extreme eye/ear contact and utter involvement – it’s not improvised but flows and ebbs and swells to paint Driver’s inner vision. Ana Cristina’s layered keyboards attend to both light and brilliance and abyssal bass, and Timba Harris’ violin is exquisite.
This is instrumental meandering that goes somewhere – a walk in the park that somehow ends up in unknown wild country, stumbles across visions and ruins and memories, finds unexpected havens and epiphanies. They play the entire new album, Thymiamatascension, including the one track with vocals, the devastating Barriers Hymn, which may be accidentally a kind of anthem for the strange and bruising times we live in – followed by the gentle drift towards hopefulness of Psalloed Illusions.
They finish with two tracks from Toby Driver’s solo work – including an old work rarely played but Cafe Oto’s grand piano ‘was too tempting’. Support was from Daniel O Sullivan – a perfect match. Daniel a veteran of several explorative, melodic bands including Guapo and Ulver, played solo compositions that were also richly pastoral and emotionally full, alive with a hint of English psychedelic hauntology; rich, warm, classic wonderfully-composed songwriting that went off on odd and satisfying grooves. (M)
The UK leg of the Alora Crucible tour continues to Liverpool tomorrow, March 25th at Kazimier Stockroom and then St.Mary’s Church, Kemptown, Brighton on March 26th
Find the Alora Crucible album via Bandcamp
Daniel O’Sullivan’s fine music can also be found on Bandcamp