photo by Karen Moshowitz

photo by Karen Moshowitz

The Humans with special guest Walter Sickert & The Army Of Broken Toys, Kid Savant
Sunday, September 25 at the Church of Boston
Doors at 7pm; 8pm show | 18+
Tickets: $12 in advance; $15 day of show

There’s so much about Toyah Ann Willcox I never knew. I was familiar with this wild-haired, exotically dressed creature from another planet that was pretty much the norm in the 1980s, though her voice set her apart. I remember her album, The Changeling, released in 1982. It was dark, gothic and sensuous, and a staple of my musical diet at the time. But I had no idea that she was also deeply immersed in an acting career – stage plays, film and television – since the mid ‘70s. She worked with Derek Jarman on his punk film Jubilee and The Tempest, and in 1979’s Quadrophenia. She appeared with Katharine Hepburn in the made-for-television movie The Corn is Green, and in many live theatrical roles. At the same time, she fronted a few bands before embarking on a solo music career in 1985.

A little nostalgia for the old folks…

Her current band, The Humans, came together in 2007, after being invited by the Estonian ambassador to tour Estonia. Joined by Bill Rieflin (Swans, Ministry, R.E.M., Robyn Hitchcock) and Chris Wong, their music is dramatic, theatrical, at times ambient, at other times experimental and even industrial, and focuses on the voice as an instrument (rather than competing with a loud rock band). She’s accompanied by bass, programmed drumming, and a guest guitarist by the name of Robert Fripp (who has also been her husband since 1986). They’ve covered Nancy Sinatra’s classic “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’” (their first single) and also Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”

Their new album, Sugar Rush (out Sept. 27 on The End Records) is amazingly varied and complex. It’s quite a wild ride and not for the feint of heart, though there are some really pretty moments amidst turbulent seas. Mr. Fripp lends his lovely, distinctive guitar tones to every track. From hard, industrial sounds with tough, jaded lyrics and jagged edges (“Titanium Girl,” “Sugar Rush,” “Put A Woman On The Moon”) to quiet and vulnerable ballads such as “Love in a Different Way” and “Pebble,” and the strong, proud “Fragment Pool.” There are musical soundscapes, deliciously Fripp-like with Toyah’s haunting, ethereal vocals (“Snow at 10:23,” “The Reasoning”). “Small Town Psychopath” is stark and dramatic with rolling walls of guitar. “Sweet Agitation” wavers between an uncomfortable edginess and a strange comfort in the madness (“sweet, beautiful agitation / I can’t control my admiration”).

The Humans: “Sea Of Size”

This is the band’s US debut — just four stateside shows (Portland, Boston, Philly and NYC) before their European tour. For these live dates, they’ll be joined by a drummer to add further texture and color to the band’s sonic palette.

Supporting The Humans will be Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, a Victorian production of epic proportions in their own right, and I can’t think of a more delicious appetizer. The evening begins with Brooklyn-based Kid Savant.

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys

The Humans: official site | facebook | wikipedia || Toyah: official site | wikipedia | twitter

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys: official site | facebook | bandcamp | twitter

Kid Savant: myspace | NUVO interview

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