Review: Toby Driver + Timba Harris + Russell Greenberg – Ichneumonidae

Toby Driver - IchneumonidaeSound slots beautifully into concept and purpose. Or perhaps vice versa. Ichneumonidae seems to have a very human movement – the violin in particular seems to slide like feet across the floor and arpeggiate in graceful twirls, halting occasionally to rebalance and emphasise a particular pose; momentarily still, with the smooth decay of guitar notes receding like seawater withdrawing from between toes. There are pockets of quiet and they feel like a sudden transfixion on a solitary thought, freezing to the spot as if paralysed by a thick, invasive realisation – occasionally these are followed by unexpected convulsions that pounce upon stillness, with violin lurching involuntarily upward and dragging a stumbling, bewildered guitar with it. At no point do I feel as though I’m perfectly upright and on even footing; such is the piece’s sense of tonality that every chord is fixed into a crooked and unnatural shape, with head bent toward the knees and feet raised from the floor, flitting between bouts of continuous movement and specks of activity against a blanket of silence.

There is a beautiful sensation that the music is in dialogue with an unseen too, which all makes sense in the knowledge that Ichneumonidae is a soundtrack to a dance piece named after a family of parasitic wasps. The sound cradles edge of the stereo image, as an illustrious frame into which a monologue of physical movement can enter and unfold – and yet, as the music moves from beautifully curvaceous shapes to the spikes and terror of the final movement – drums quivering around stabbing guitar notes, synthesisers humming and tumbling, hysterical violin sobbing breathlessly – it strikes me that the sound is perhaps more than just a peripheral sonic narrator to the central story; in my mind the music starts to turn limbs through sheer vibration, puppeteering the dancer’s body through a sound that seizes the spirit, becoming a parasite that is paradoxically both external to the subject and intimately entwined with flesh, outside in, inside out.