Listening to an instrumental album is a sonic affair. Too many times you find yourself going down the proverbial rabbit hole, getting lost in ambient labyrinths and only coming up for air once the entire experience has subsided. Instrumental albums allow you to dig deeper and explore the musical intricacies that vocals and lyrics seem to conceal, and the effect of uncovering a subliminal sound after each listen, heightens the aural senses that much more.
Peter Toussaint’s solo album, One Day, is laced with such nuances. Acoustic instrumentals and brass and string compositions are entwined with sporadic blurbs and the familiar sounds of everyday life. Samples of hadeda kraaks, traffic, dogs’ barks, and church bells – so often obscured by routine – are woven between songs, illustrating the profoundness in savouring the small things.
And it’s in these finer details that you’ll find the fundamentals of this conceptual collection. Singing birds breathe life into opening track, Sunrise, while bright and warm acoustic strings are a morning delight. The sound of a car being started on A Journey transports you into that same sonic dimension – a rock-steady guitar riff blasts on the car’s stereo, but just when you think the album is kicking into gear, it circles back into a melodic ambience.
As much as the first cluster of songs is rooted in acoustic arrangements, flavours of 80s classic rock come to the fore mid-record. Like a tribute to the masterminds of the iconic concept albums of yesteryear, the bluesy licks on Oak Trees are steeped in David Gilmore-like lead-guitaring that illuminated the songs on Dark Side Of The Moon all those years ago. The Satriani-esque squelching guitars and erratic synths on Mosquito are difficult to repel, and Calm After’s perfectly weighted notes flow into sounds of echoing sirens on Amsterdam By Night. The voice of Toussaint appears from nowhere as he sings on the closing track, Midnight, ending the album on a high note.
The compositions on One Day could be music to the ears of the trained or discerning listener. But it goes without saying that Toussaint’s blend of instrumentality is open to interpretation and enables any listener – trained or layman – to deduce their own narrative. At the end of it all, One Day isn’t a string of songs loosely slapped onto a record; it is a meticulously-curated and detail-driven thematic story, of which its songs seamlessly segue into one another.
One Day is available on most digital platforms.