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On the heels of Kayo Dot’s 2016 album Plastic House On Base Of Sky, New York City based avant-garde musician Toby Driver sustains his inexhaustible output with a solo album titled Madonnawhore. After exploring a retro-futurist noir sound on Kayo Dot’s 2014 album Coffins On Io then delving even further into electronic music with his aforementioned last album, Driver was eager to write a different kind of song. Madonnawhore represents a foray into traditional songwriting, stripped of the progressive flourishes and unpredictability of Driver’s band. These six austere tracks are sparse and atmospheric, evoking empty spaces and the beauty sometimes inherent in death. They occupy a heretofore unexplored place in Driver’s oeuvre, and were recorded primarily as a solo effort but share some lyrical contributions from Jason Byron, who also writes for Kayo Dot. Although not a concept album, Madonnawhore is united by its exploration of the “madonna-whore complex,” a psychological neurosis first identified by Sigmund Freud whereby a man feels he can only love a woman who maintains a saint-like purity, but desires to be intimate with someone he considers to be debased. This sacred/profane dichotomy has far reaching effects that are seemingly inescapable in modern society and ripe for examination.
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