Robin Hatch Announces New LP “T.O.N.T.O.” with the Tropicalia-Inspired “Brazil”

The Toronto-based composer readies a full album recorded with the behemoth synthesizer made famous by Stevie Wonder.

If you aren’t already familiar with TONTO—​​The Original New Timbral Orchestra—I, someone born well after the 1970s who’s yet to fully immerse myself in the wonders of Innervisions, may not be your best resource for explaining the cobbled-together electronic instrument that single-handedly birthed a movement in electronic music (but I could point you in the right direction). But for the knowledgable folks out there, it was this hulking mass of knobs and wires that aided Toronto composer Robin Hatch on her latest project, T.O.N.T.O., which she’s dedicated to the machine.

Ahead of the album’s October 29 release date, Hatch is introducing the project with a new single called “Brazil” which sets the tone for the record, with BADBADNOTGOOD saxophonist Leland Whitty and Dr. Dog drummer and Taylor Swift recording sesh alum Eric Slick joining her on the woozy number. “In the middle of February, I received two weeks advance notice from the National Music Centre about a rescheduled residency to record a neoclassical album on the TONTO synthesizer,” she explains. “This song was a throwaway idea I fleshed out while quarantining in Calgary the night before the residency started.” 

She goes on to share that the primary influences on the track, include tropicalia and the Terry Gilliam sci-fi the tune is named after. “Besides these, it was inspired by the chord progressions on Talking Book, and the musical blurred lines between whether a song has sharps or flats. Typically my music is somewhat melancholic; Stevie Wonder writes in a way that evokes joy, so this was a conscious attempt to step outside my comfort zone and try that… I asked Leland Whitty and Eric Slick to record overdubs and they really brought this to life. What an honor. I think the sax explosion with the bass and the drums at the end sums up aurally how it felt to play music over the last year.”

Hear the track below, and pre-order the record here.


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