|Independent artist release
Tonchi McIntosh - Bridges
Order Number tmc001
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Obvious strains of influence: Shane Howard, Paul Kelly, Ben Lee, Aussie Folk-Rock (i.e. Those Bloody McKennas, The Ploughboys)
Tonchi McIntosh, or just Tonchi as he is now known, presents a debut album of interest and eloquence, filled with bravura, youthful memories and the fire of hindsight. All the tracks feature lush arrangements, and a clear production by producer Shane Howard lends a simplicity to the album that belies the level of song-crafting contained therein. Tonchi's song-writing is subtle but direct, and honestly depicts life the way he sees it, or would like it to be seen. The musicians on Bridges are excellent, and contribute neatly to the whole. Living in the rural 'heart' of Australia's outback (He was raised in and around Bourke), Tonchi draws on themes that have informed him, and helped shape his life and sense of identity. That identity is quintessentially rural/semi-urban Australian. The title track for the album, "Bridges", lets us know what his business is about, and he gets to the quick of it by asking the listener if they have ever experienced that aspect of Australian life outside of the supermarkets, TV stations, Americana, drive-time radio, peak-hour traffic, cafe society, urban hell, posing have you "ever been woken by black cockatoos on the banks of the Darling? (Oh, no. No?)" His reply is an attempt to reconcile the differences between his two sides of Australian cultural life, "Then we can talk/ Cross the room and talk/ No nothing can start/ While these bridges they burn." 'Bridges' is full of this type of imagery and allusion, and at times it becomes repetitive, yet that is the nature of things when they remain unresolved. I can't agree entirely with Tonchi's polarisation on what represents 'real' Australia, as it is a subjective thing. I'll wager that Tonchi's never seen the sun come up over the Pieman River, but that doesn't make him any less Australian, or, as Paul Kelly says in an earlier question about issues of identity, "have you ever seen Sydney from a 727 at night (oh-oh yeah)." To Kelly, it's a beautiful sight. It is too simplistic and one-sided to make this into an issue of 'us and them', of split history, of 'bush and urban', or of the ignorant white-fella cultures, and our relationship with the land and its peoples. The stereotypes only work if you exclude certain aspects or realities of Australian life. Tonchi doesn't seem to set out to do this, but I think he falls into the trap of post-colonial rhetoric at the expense of the whole truth. He remains, however, true to his vision. That vision is of a singer-songwriter obsessed with the plight of his Australia and its peoples, as the themes of ordinary Australians is played out against multinational 'big Australians', both old ("Kidman") and new (BHP - now Bluescope Steel in "Mayfield"), an Australia where companies and farmers walk away from the land, where colonial infarction has eaten a hole in the 'heart' of the country, a place where Aboriginal culture is usurped, ignored, or destroyed wholesale losing so much that would help us in our present global warming days. Tonchi loves asking questions, very pertinent ones at that, and helps bring to the forefront the matter of what we are sacrificing for short term gain, and what we might stand to achieve if we chart a different course and plan longtime.
The standout track for me on the album is one of a whole lot of standout tracks. "Give it all Away" is simple, elegant and full of imagery that in a line or two wraps up so much world history. It is a loving song, in contrast to a love song, and describes the yearning to be there when it happens, to experience - even for a moment - what it's like to be in the presence of an altruistic human being; as opposed to say a moment by Geneva from "Big Brother", the mighty and the truly vacuous.
None other than the great singer-songwriter Dick Gaughan had this to say about Tonchi: "This time in Melbourne, the night was opened by a younger Australian singer with whom I've worked before, Tonchi McIntosh, whose background is half Scots, half Mexican, but he is 100% Australian and he's just getting better all the time. His songs are about Australia and the first time I heard him I thought, "Thank you, I understand the soul of Australia a bit better after listening to you." Well worth going out of your way to hear."
Gaughan went on to say that his fears of the future when he and his ilk are "retired or dead" were allayed in that "with people like Tonchi McIntosh we have nothing to worry about." With words like that from the great man, what are you waiting for. Buy Tonchi McIntosh's "Bridges" and learn some new ways to cross them. - review by Tigdh O'Glesain for indie-cds.com 2005
The Players: Rob Cooper: vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion
Paul Woseen: bass and wit
Chris Wash: bass
Martin Felleti: drums and junk drum kit - metal grate, bits of bamboo,
pots and pans, plastic buckets, bottles.
Mark Wenitong: electric and nylon string guitars
Deb Sisson: keys, good vibes
Shane Howard: hand drums, feedback & acoustic guitar, vocals, Tools
Mick Letho: engineering, mixing, Tools
Michael Williams: drums
Richard Tankard: keys
John Hudson: guitar
Andy Alberts, Robbie Bundle and David Arden: vocals and spirit
Tonchi McIntosh: Vocals, guitars, boomerangs
Marcus Wright: executive producer
Andrew McAllistor: mixing support
Kelli McIntosh: Catering, executive support
"Tonchi McIntosh, remember the name. If all things are equal in the music industry, especially in Australia, McIntosh's name would not need to be remembered. It would be before the public's eye simply for the talent associated with it.Bridges is his debut album and its maturity of songs and their impressive execution belies his relative recording inexperience. ... One of McIntosh's strengths is the
meshing of imagery, be it allegorical
or as raw and rich as the red earth
of the outback. It gives his music
an originality, that in Australia,
is something to savour." - Warwick MacFadyen, The Age
Information from the artist's website:
"Tonchi and friends travelled down to Killarney, Warrnambool, South West Victoria for three weeks of recording, swimming, singing and inspiration.
The Belfast dunes at Killarney and an old fisherman's cottage surrounded by the black lava rocks, reefs, coastal marshes, black swans and water birds provided the ideal setting for the creation of Tonchi's debut album titled 'Bridges'.
If you listen carefully you can hear the rain on the homestead's tin roof, various native birds and a black crow that sat near the window and sang as we recorded the vocal track for the title track 'Bridges'.
Producer Shane Howard teamed up with his long term recording partner, sound engineer exraordinaire Michael Letho, to create the album. Local Guditjimura musicians Andy Alberts, Robbie Bundall and David Arden also joined in. Their timely arrivals on the scene ensured a good spirit and an earthy grounding in the local aboriginal reality.
Shane continued working on the tracks at his home studio, and the final mixing and mastering was done at Michael Lethos 'Front Room' studios in Melbourne in 2001. The album was released in NSW in late 2001 and in Melbourne and VIC in 2002."