Igor Krutogolov’s Toy Orchestra

Daniel Tchetchik

Lots of bands make use of toy instruments, but apart from our old “toytronica” friend Twink, we’ve never met anyone more committed to toying around than Igor Krutogolov. His 10-piece group plays all of their music exclusively on stuff aimed at the six-and-under set: toy guitars, toy drum kits, toy clarinets, teeny little accordions and xylophones and glockenspiels and things that squeak when you squeeze them. All of which sounds adorable, right? Except they somehow manage to twist those instruments into infectious but slightly menacing grooves with hints of punk, jazz, klezmer and even metal, over which Krutogolov groans and growls like an old blues singer with lungs full of cigarettes. It’s like a Tom Waits concert broke out at Toys “R” Us.

Krutogolov’s band, alternately referred to as the Karate Band or the Toy Orchestra, is based in Israel and released their first album, Children 4 Muzik, back in 2005.  Then they went on a long hiatus so Krutogolov could focus on other projects, including his equally weird avant-klezmer band, Kruzenshtern i Parohod. But the toys kept calling to him, so this year he’s brought the Karate Band/Toy Orchestra back with a brand-new album, How to Be a Crocodile.

The music on How to Be a Crocodile is so much fun we can hardly stand it: playful, dark, funny, funky and nasty-sounding in a way that totally defies its toy instrumentation. Here’s a video from one of the album’s recording sessions, for the song “Mad Medow.” Sounds like the best cartoon villain theme song ever, doesn’t it?

And here’s a recent live performance of the Crocodile track “Skeleton Dance,” which bears little resemblance to the Carl Stalling music from the old Disney cartoon:

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Twink releases new video, gives new meaning to the term “house music”

Twink, Happy Houses

Friend of the blog Mike Langlie, the man behind Twink, the toy piano band, has been quite the prolific fellow of late. Just four months after his last album, Miniatures Volume 1—an album composed entirely on the Yellofier iPad app—Mike’s twinking out another new album. This one’s called Happy Houses and while he hasn’t shared his recording process with us, we’re pretty sure based on lead single “Close to Home” that toy pianos and banjos were involved.

Happy Houses doesn’t get here until Feb. 10th, but you can catch the video for lead track “Close to Home” right now—right here on this very page, in fact. We’re convenient like that. Rest assured that no cartoon houses were harmed in the making on this video. Although the dude who stars in it probably walked into a few walls and truck fenders because I don’t think he can actually see where he’s going.

Oh Yeah: Twink the Toy Piano Band releases free album built with Yellofier iPhone app

Twink-Miniatures

It’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything from Twink, our favorite toy-based band. So we were delighted to learn a few days ago that, to celebrate the launch of his revamped website, Twink mastermind Mike Langlie is giving away a free, nine-track LP of new music. The collection is called Miniatures Volume 1 and it has the distinction of being the first album ever created entirely with the Yellofier iPhone/iPad app. Yellofier, for those of y’all not familiar, is a music-making sampler/sequencer app created by Boris Blank, one-half of the Swiss electronic duo Yello. Never heard of them? Oh yeah you have. Get it? Cuz the song is called “Oh Yeah”? Oh, we crack ourselves up.

Anyhoo, to download your copy of Miniatures Volume 1, scurry on over to Twink.net. You can also name your price if you feel like throwing Mike a little extra coin.

The Yellofier app is not free, but at $2.99, it’s still a steal. You can read more about it and watch a demo video here.

If you’re a try-before-you-buy type, feel free to preview the album below. It’s a veritable symphony of plinks, plunks and plastic beats.

Twink

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Lots of bands use toy instruments in their music, but few do it with as much dedication as Mike Langlie, the man behind Twink, the Toy Piano Band. Since 1999, Mike has been using his growing collection of toy pianos and other gear you’d more likely find at Toys R Us rather than Guitar Center to crank out seven albums’ worth of surprisingly diverse music. Given that Langlie himself calls this stuff “toytronica,” “cartoon pop,” or even “cutetronica,” you might assume it all sounds like it ought to be coming out of an ice cream truck. And yeah, some of it does. But much of it’s also funny, creepy and occasionally beautiful. Turns out these toys aren’t strictly for kids.

Mike was kind enough to send us a copy of his latest album, Itsy Bits & Bubbles, which is about as fun-loving and candy-colored as its title, although there’s a surprisingly strong bottom end to some of the tracks, too—I think it’s safe to say the man’s been listening to some dubstep. He’s also posted videos for most (all?) of the new album’s tracks, all built around cleverly edited vintage black-and-white cartoons. Here’s one of our favorites, for a truly twisted track called “Flibberty Gibbet.” Wonder if any DJs spin this type of stuff at Electric Daisy Carnival? If they don’t, they really should.

Bonus factoid: Among the various labels that have released Twink’s music over the years is Seeland, the label run by Weird List veterans Negativland. Told ya this stuff ain’t just for kids.

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