I’ll admit I’m rather stretching the definition of ‘local’ with this next band – but well, at least one of them lives in York, and that’s good enough for me. By Toutatis are a quartet of self-described ‘post-folk racketeers’, formed from the ashes of Middlesbrough-based history-rock sextet Idiot Savant – the band comprises of ex-Savants Daniel Cochran (Vocals/Wind Organ/Guitar), Robbie Major (Violin/Synth) and Francois B. Muriel (Drums/Organ/Vocals), along with Ben Hopkinson (Guitar/Piano/Vocals). The band have already released an EP entitled Three More Nights Of The Rough Musick via their Bandcamp page, and you can listen to (and download it) it via the player below:
If you needed any confirmation that the historical leanings of Idiot Savant are still very much alive and well, you only need listen to ‘High Gallows Tree’, a suitably sombre, slow-burning arrangement of a traditional hangman’s song. The band’s original material is equally engaging – ‘Sailors’ Church’ contrasts its upbeat drums with sweeping, mournful violins and melancholy vocals, while ‘Old Songs’ has the feel of a funereal sea shanty. Closing out the EP is ‘The Good Lies’, a beautifully dynamic piece which swells from its understated beginning into a crescendo of military drumming, driving piano chords and haunting backing vocals – as well as providing a showcase for Cochran’s arresting baritone.
Unfortunately, the band haven’t got any shows planned in York at the moment – but they’re playing in Halifax, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool before the end of the year, so check out their Facebook page for the dates. Hopefully they’ll get round to visiting soon – wilfully different and with talent to spare, By Toutatis are the kind of distinctive band that needs to be celebrated more often.