Vogue Dots – Toska

Vogue Dots - Toska

Band: Vogue Dots
EP: Toska

Written by: Chiara DiAngelo


The work of Babette Hayward (vocals) and Writers’ Strike Tynan Dunfield (production), Saint John/Halifax experimental electronic duo Vogue Dots is new on the scene. Having already inked a deal with Montreal’s Indica Records, their debut EP Toska was released May 6th.

Vladimir Nabokov describes the Russian term as this: “No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.” While I’m not always one for electronica, I was hit with the most breathlessly disarming sensation upon realization of just how perfectly this body of work embodies the above description.

Marrying the dreamy vocals of Hayward with opalescent pulsating beats provided by Dunfield, first track “Skinny Thing” gets you lost in what feels like a fever dream. This is Toska at its most troubled. In contrast, “Mercy” possesses much more of a floaty, effervescent feel that bubbles up echoes of a distant longing for something more, while Hayward’s declaration of “honey I’m bored” amidst the percolating organ-like tones throughout “Turns and Turns” sink us down to the lowest level.

In addition to the three originals, the 5-track EP also includes two covers of fellow Haligonians’ work. Vogue Dots’ version of “Temporal Suspension” adds a darker and sultry edge to the synthy dance-pop track originally from East Coast electro-master AA Wallace. The result is somehow both soothing yet positively evocative. They then instill an atmospheric chill-wave element to one of Halifax duo Cousins’ few non-frenetic tracks, “Thunder.” To fully appreciate their mastery, do yourself a favour and listen to the originals and Vogue Dots’ takes back-to-back. It’ll stun you.

Toska dropped in May and the duo has two Toronto shows coming up – June 10 at Handlebar and June 13 at The Central. Until then, check out Toska on Bandcamp.

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Categories: Recorded

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