I can’t say enough good words about these two gentlemen; Brian Poole (Renaldo) and David Janssen (Ted the Loaf) The music they make has been described throughout the years by friends I’ve played them for as: “circus music on acid”, “better than the Residents”, and “please turn this off.”
They met and started making sounds in the early 1970s. Initially bonding over a shared love of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Marc Bolan’s pre T-Rex folkie weirdness. They sound nothing like that. They spent a while just doing their thing, recording and self releasing one cassette called Renaldo and The Loaf Play Struvé and Sneff, recorded at their home studio dubbed Sneff’s Surgery. All their output from the start through the 1980s was recorded on either 4 or 8 track machines. Using any instrument or technique available to them. From looping rhythm, instrument, and voices to using uncommon instruments and effects to create a sound I’ve never quite heard elsewhere. Seriously, check out the instruments credited on their second LP, Arabic Yodeling:
- Acoustic Guitar [12 String], Electric Guitar, Percussion, Synthesizer [Casiotone 202], Piano, Bouzouki [Bowed], Rebec [Rababa], Glockenspiel, Piano [Thumbpiano], Harmonica, Kazoo, Voice, Mizmar [Mesmer]
- Clarinet, Electric Guitar, Bouzouki, Synthesizer [Casiotone 202], Percussion, Electronics [Fragmentor], Loops
From 1983 to 1987, they put out three amazing records: Songs for Swinging Larvae, Arabic Yodeling, and The Elbow is Taboo, released by the Resident’s label Ralph Records, along with a re-release of their first cassette, Title in Limbo, a collaboration with the Residents themselves, and various tracks on a good number of compilation releases.
After their last record, The Elbow is Taboo, they called it (mostly) quits. Dave Janssen: “I think we’d just run out of steam. The whole project had run almost continuously for 16 years – that’s a long time, a lot of marriages don’t last that long, let alone musical partnerships. There were some new ideas coming. We’d experimented with ethnic or world music with things like ‘Bali Whine’ – the gamelan influence, ‘Kous-Kous Western’ had a vaguely middle eastern feel and then there was ‘Gone to Gondwana’ with an Africa flavour. We had become interested in Early Music – medieval music, and there was possibly some mileage in that. But personally I’d just become rather tired of the whole thing, being weird or strange had just become tiresome. Everything comes to an end eventually.”
And so their records hung around, gaining more fans as time went on until in 2013, when Austrian label Klanggalerie started a comprehensive reissue and remaster campaign which over the course of seven CDs, remastered and released pretty much everything they’ve recorded with tons of unreleased recordings added. And behind the scenes while these releases were being prepared, Brian and Dave were recording a new album, Hurdy Gurding, and while it’s recorded better, trading the 4 track for a modern DAW and the possibilities contained, it still sounds like nothing else except good ol’ RaTL.
I’ve hyperlinked all albums to the bandcamp page of each for preview purposes. If you have the time, it’s worth exploring, as is their official website, a great place for a deeper history and random curiosities.
The hums do not intrude.