Todd Tobias

Todd Tobias“it’s tribute to Todd Tobias’s skill as a producer and arranger that the pace never slackens and that he’s quite effectively produced the audio equivalent of a graphic novel, one that will keep you listening right up until its cataclysmic final moments.” DOA

After years of producing Guided By Voices and playing in Circus Devils with Robert Pollard, Todd Tobias branched out on his own, producing a string of themed instrumental albums for Hidden Shoal, each one unique in its evocation of an imagined world. His music is defiantly unique and vividly realised across his evolving discography.

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Discography

 

 

Todd Tobias & Chloe March – Amialluma


September 2018

After a number of stunning track collaborations on Todd Tobias’s 2015 album Gila Man, Chloe March and Todd Tobias have joined forces on their new full-length, Amialluma. Following on from Tobias’s recent album Massabu Evening Entertainments and March’s own Blood-Red Spark, this new album brings both artists’ distinct musical sensibilities together to create a bewitching brew. Dwelling in a mysterious hinterland somewhere between Cocteau Twins’ seminal Victorialand and The Caretaker’s Persistent Repetition of Phrases, Amialluma dances between the earthly and heavenly. Chloe March’s celestial voice shines a light through Todd Tobias’s dark, fantastical soundscapes, resulting in a sublime, uncanny experience that enraptures and unsettles in equal measure.

 

Massabu Evening Entertainments

March 2018 This time Tobias breaks out a rollicking set of Middle-Eastern flavored psychedelia. Massabu’s 13 breathless tracks evoke a night club grotto in some exotic port town filled with wild dancers and intoxicating fumes. Tobias is joined on three tracks by Italian vocalist Pat Moonchy, who lends a playful, otherworldly touch.

Gila Man

18 October 2015 Each Todd Tobias solo album presents its own discrete, surreal world – and Gila Man is no exception. A wordless musical novella that merges a psychedelic Western with shadowy science fiction, Gila Man simultaneously evokes the wide-eyed wonder of discovery and the creeping dread of what horrors may lurk around the next corner. Featuring the stunning wordless vocals of English songwriter and fellow Hidden Shoal artist Chloë March, the album is at once beautiful and unsettling – and a wonderful distillation of the magical qualities of Tobias’s previous musical outings. Gila Man’s individual songs vividly evoke characters and scenes within the album’s imaginary narrative, casting dusty projections onto the mind’s eye. Breezily meditative single ‘Pollen Path’ shimmers with acoustic fingerpicking and Chloë March’s celestial voice. ‘Howler’s Hill’ breaks out of its haunted intro into an agitated, fuzzy churn, while ‘Queen Mab’ circles around synth and chime motifs to create a delicate, melancholic dirge. ‘Tularosa’, again featuring Chloë March, is woozy, French-sounding atmos-pop. ‘Highlake’s Last Stand’ pits dreamy guitar wanderings against ritualistic sludge rock. Wherever this music ventures, the listener is compelled to follow.

Tristes Tropiques

June 2015 While best known for producing Guided By Voices and collaborating with Robert Pollard (Circus Devils, Ricked Wicky and Pollard’s solo material), Tobias has also crafted an innovative body of instrumental solo work, of which Tristes Tropique is the latest chapter. Hypnotic and melancholy-soaked, Tristes Tropique presents a luxuriant yet downcast tone, drawing comparisons to the eerie, transportive work of The Fun Years, The Gentleman Losers and Ian William Craig. This is no better exemplified than on single ‘Suvarnabhumi’, in which sparse, yearning guitar figures are subsumed by ethereal synths. Sinister yet alluring, these musical environments throb with sensuality, danger and promise. Tristes Tropique takes its title from the book by French anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, which literally translates as “sad tropics”. Tobias sought to evoke far-flung places where indigenous cultures have either vanished or are in the process of being swallowed up by an ever-expanding global civilization.

Moorea

June 2015 Moorea is the stunning companion EP to Todd Tobias’s brilliant 2015 album Tristes Tropiques.

Impossible Cities

October 2014 Impossible Cities is the latest visionary chapter in Todd Tobias’s ongoing exploration of rock’s darkest and most hypnotic realms. Inspired by the Ital Calvino book Invisible Cities, each track is named after an imaginary city, from the glistening exoticism of ‘Lamura’ via the seething murk of ‘Gorgum Reeth’ and ‘Smazbaal’ to the eerie, shimmering grandeur of ‘Akrova’, Tobias’s latest musical universe is vividly rendered, scary, beautiful and utterly immersive. The album comes with the companion mini-album Impossible Cities 2, which comprises 10 haunting vignettes.

Impossible Cities 2

October 2014 Impossible Cities 2, comprising 10 haunting vignettes, is the free companion mini-album to Todd Tobias’s Impossible Cities.

I Razor (featuring Circus Devils)

May 2013 I Razor, by Todd Tobias and Circus Devils, is the soundtrack to the no-budget experimental feature film of the same name directed by Todd Tobias. The I Razor soundtrack comprises challenging, playful, twisted, murky and downright beautiful pieces of music by Todd Tobias and Circus Devils, featuring vocals from Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices) as well as instrumental versions of some of the Devil’s existing songs. The album is a cinematic feast within itself, uncompromising, redemptive and always engaging. It weaves lo-fi keyboards through shimmering guitar textures, scatters unsettling rhythms across ethereal synthscapes, and unveils kaleidoscopic new treasures among its 30+ tracks with each listen. Told from the perspective of a former scientist turned wandering telepathic man-child, I Razor is the story of one man’s quest to regain his lost humanity.  I Razor presents its world in hallucinatory visions, reflecting the state of mind of its main character.  The story is told with minimal dialog and an open plot structure, relying instead on visuals and music to carry it’s narratives.

Night Above Ground

November 2012 In contrast to Medicine Show‘s serpentine construction and intense atmosphere, Night Above Ground is more airy, accessible and playful, bursting into vivid life with the crowd chatter and tumbling noisescapes of ‘Invocation’. Immersive, hypnotic tracks such as ‘Crystal Palace People’ alternate with brief, impressionistic pieces such as ‘Workshop of Spears’ and ‘Ashes and Cream’. The EP’s 17 minutes flow past your third eye like a Dali-esque dream.

Medicine Show

April 2012 After years of producing Guided By Voices, playing in Circus Devils with Robert Pollard, and helping to create the music for Pollard’s solo albums, Todd Tobias is striking out on his own with his debut solo album. Defiantly unique and vividly realised, Medicine Show is a multi-faceted instrumental opus, evoking a shadowy steampunk dystopia. By turns nightmarish and hauntingly beautiful, the three-dimensional musical universe that Tobias conjures across 40 minutes is totally addictive. From the dark GBV-esque groove of ‘Night of the Club Foot’, through the gaseous synths of ‘Pre-Dawn Visitation’, evoking a hallucinogen-fuelled walk among a misty moon-lit forest, to the visceral lurch of single ‘Manatoc Enters The City / The Long Fall’, Medicine Show plays out like the soundtrack to a Terry Gilliam movie starring Tom Waits, each song a totally immersive scene, leading inexorably into the next.

Biography

Todd Tobias grew up in Northeast Ohio, USA, where he played in a string of bands, culminating in Circus Devils, alongside fellow Ohioan, Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices. In 2002, Todd began producing albums with Pollard, beginning with Guided by Voices’ Matador release Universal Truths and Cycles. Todd has also produced many other indie-rock projects over the years, including fellow Hidden Shoal artist Kramies.  While playing in bands as a drummer or bassist, he continued work on his own with a cassette 4-track, creating soundscapes and his own brand of exotic rock, as showcased in his prolific work with Circus Devils.  In 2012, Todd finally birthed his first solo work for Hidden Shoal, titled Medicine Show, followed by Impossible Cities (2014) and Tristes Tropiques (2015), each of which has been accompanied by a companion EP.

 

News

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Reviews

  • “Moonchy & Tobias III” Reviewed at Music Won’t Save You

    (Translated via Google)

    “The partnership of the Milanese experimental vocalist Pat Moonchy with the multifaceted orchestrator of alienating atmospheres Todd Tobias is now a stable partnership . On the third album in the space of two years, the ambitious artistic duo continues on the track traced by the previous “ Atmosfere ” (2019), filling sound environments with spectral contours with evocative harmonic contents.

    The choice of Latin as the prevailing language of Moonchy’s vocal evolutions undoubtedly contributes to amplifying the mysterious density of the twelve short snapshots that make up the work, as never before solemn and hieratic, which raise invocations of persuasive restlessness to a night sky, such as the one shown on the cover, between whose menacing shadows are visible diaphanous moon rays. Although largely dotted with dark frequencies and synthetic currents of increasing tension, Tobias’s textures not only reveal atmospheric vapors of surprising warmth but also retract to enhance marked piano lines, on which Moonchy’s declamations are clothed with pronounced lyricism (” Sericum ”,“ Dies Festus ”).

    In just over half an hour, the two musicians therefore offer new proof of alchemy which, with extreme naturalness, unites their expressive worlds, manifesting itself in a surreal gallery of sounds and visions with a dark charm.”

    - Music Won’t Save You

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  • “Moonchy & Tobias III” Reviewed at Subjectivisten

    (Translated via Google)

    “The power and beauty of the micro label is regularly proven by the quirky Tiny Room Records. They know how to bring out wonderful unique music, which others do not have an eye or ear for. A very nice example is the duo Moonchy & Tobias. These debut on the label in 2018 with their eponymous album, albeit written in Japanese. It brings together two special artists, namely vocalist Pat Moonchy (Sothiac, Doubleganger, One Lip 5, Pat Moonchy Trio, Tai No-Orchestra) and the American multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias (4 Coyotes, Brother Earth, Clouds Forming Crowns, Circus Devils (with Robert Pollard from Guided By Voices), Ricked Wicky, Psycho And The Birds). And in addition, both have also released solo albums. Moonchy often moves in the experimental, dark ambient, avant-garde and noise angle,while Tobias prefers more psychedelic and adventurous rock. As a duo they form a completely magical and mysterious combination, which is also from their second albumAtmosfere (2019) emerges again. Now they are back with their third release Moonchy & Tobias III . The music has become a kaleidoscopic mix of neoclassical, dark ambient, avant-garde and psychedelia. Moonchy’s vocals, somehow reminiscent of Chinese, are somewhere between Phew and Louisa Lilani (from John Prop… does anyone even remember these classy ones?). Musically you have references such as Mi And L’Au, The Caretaker, Cranes, Dead Can Dance and Portishead , although they never quite cover what this pair brings here. In conclusion, you can safely say that you are certainly not dealing with an average combo. What a great, versatile and mesmerizing album!”

    De Subjectivisten

     

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  • “Moonchy & Tobias III” Reveiwed at Here Comes The Flood

    “Ohio based experimentalist Todd Tobias and Italian avant-garde singer Pat Moonchy go in at the deep end on their third album, taking cues from Portishead’s lauded Third. A sense of foreboding is eminent inn the soundscapes and by using Latin it could be mistaken for a gospel record, albeit one where art is the thing that offers mankind comfort and a sense for beauty.

    Most of the tracks move slowly – Frangit inches forward at snail’s pace – making Moonchy & Tobias III a listening experience that is an oasis in a sped-up world wherein everything is moving so fast that details and nuances are lost. This music is best experienced in solitude wearing a set of premium headphones.”

    Here Comes The Flood

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  • “Moonchy & Tobias III” Reviewed at Louder Than War

    “This is the third record from ex GBV man, Todd Tobias and Italian chanteuse Pat Moonchy, and it’s possibly their best.

    Moonchy & Tobias III is certainly the perfect soundtrack to these discombobulating times. Soundtracking the vacuum with their elegant psychodramas, things start off as they mean to go on with the mini opera of ‘Dubium’; Pat Moonchy’s suggestive vocal swoops (doubtless played for maximum effect) give extra tension to the strange rhythmic pattern that both backdrops and propels the piece.

    Second track ‘Petali Caduti’ is also driven in a notable way, this time by a glorious stomping beat – is a voyage through a strange landscape. The audio version of a Dora Carrington painting? It could well be so. Third track ‘Sericum’ (Silk) is the poppiest and most fully developed of the tracks, part 80s Goth pop, part modern classical tidbit. You get the feeling that the more standard structure of ‘Sericum’ is a gateway moment, allowing the LP to explore other pastures later on. It’s not a reversion to a “state of normal” though, far from it. We have some lyrics in the booklet, as proof: “the silk of affluence/bites the young lovers”…

    By now you should get the picture. Mystery and mood are our guides. Many of the tracks on Moonchy & Tobias III are presented mythically, as if coloured slides in a magic lantern. Also, the subtle rhythms and changes of tempo in each piece – and the ever-changing vocal conceits adopted by Moonchy – give the listening experience a peculiarly weightless quality. Whilst listening to tracks like the ‘Frangit’, which like to play compressed sounds off against soaring vocals, it’s like being submerged in the rhythms of the tide. This idea of listening to the sound of an ever-evolving dream, or midnight swim is accentuated by the cover; the moon appearing through clouds. Consequently, the listener could maybe feel unable, or unwilling, to escape this huge, dark, mysterious netherworld that slowly builds up around them. Piranesian, even? Maybe.

    But don’t think Moonchy & Tobias III is an exercise in making a sugar-coated dystopia. The record is an arresting listen and an experience to be grabbed and shaped by the listener. There are some killer cuts to hold on to in this shadowland. ‘Petali Caduti’ is one, and ‘Limbi’ is definitely another; a gloriously vampish track given form by the rich operatic vocals, especially those jumps up and down the scale. Once or twice things become like Cocteau Twins’ glorious sleepathon Victorialand, especially ‘Dies Festus’, ‘Dum’ and ‘Unum’ which are all gently rocked – if not tucked up in bed – by slow, softly-pressed piano passages.

    I think they should give David Lynch a ring without delay.”

    Louder Than War

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  • Moonchy & Tobias “Atmosfere” Reviewed at African Paper

    (Translated via Google)

    “Anyone who plays “Atmosfere” and is at least partially familiar with the previous work by Pat Moonchy and Todd Tobias could feel confused for a while and ask whether he or she may have sold out in the record cabinet. What echoes at you is far from shrill voice experiments in artful fantasy languages ​​and from raw psychedelics collaged according to original contrasts.

    Instead, you listen to the nice guitar picking and mid-tempo drumming of a relaxed folk song that slowly turns into a subtle rock ballad. Even with slightly breathy singing, one becomes suspicious and initially thinks that Linda Perhacs (or Lisa Ekdahl, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sarah June …) has learned Italian. Only gradually, in the hoarse breath of nostalgia of “La Sguerdo”, one recognizes Moonchy in the tremolation of her voice, which this time is only slightly used, which is cherished by silk ribbons and kept from breaking out. Now there is movement in the songs, which unfold their charisma more and more. It speaks of the lascivious funkyness of “Occasione”, of the varied singing, which in “In Tasca” lies over atmospheric ballad strumming and repeatedly tilts into eccentric inclines,from the hypnotic Appreggios of the fragile “Dall ‘Occhio”.

    The atmosphere that is sung about and evoked in “Atmosfere” is of a sepia-colored nostalgia and is perfect for filling a stylishly furnished café – the effect would, however, be viral, which would give the cosiness a subtle refraction that would be barely perceptible to the inattentive. The friendly pop appeal has a double bottom that cannot be missing from two avant-garde artists who only seem to deny their roots.”

    African Paper

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  • Moonchy & Tobias “Atmosfere” Reviewed at hifi.nl

    [Translated via Google]

    “Atmosfere is the second album that multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias releases together with Pat Moonchy via the Utrecht record label Tiny Room Records. In just half an hour the duo gives a rather unusual, dreamy look into a surreal world that somehow feels pleasant to the listener.

    Todd Tobias is no stranger anymore. The fifty-year-old from Ohio, USA has gained international fame not only for his own work but also for his role within the band Guided By Voices and his work with Robert Pollard. Pat Moonchy, a born Italian, is less well-known in our country, but still has a good record of merit. She is half of the experimental band Sothiac, plays in duos alongside trombonist Angelo Contini and jazzdrumer Lino Liguori, is a member of the Tai-No Orchestra and not to mention German krautrock pioneers Faust.

    After the self-titled debut of Moonchy & Tobias (which was released via Tiny Room and Hidden Shoal in 2018), the duo puts down a more balanced and unambiguous whole on Atmosfere. Instead of using fictional language, Moonchy sings in her native language. In fact, she takes on a leading role, because although the modest playing style of Todd Tobias creates tension and atmosphere, there is an all-determining vocal style on the album. The childish, almost Asian-looking voice of Pat takes some getting used to, but gives the twelve short tracks a unique sound and experience.

    Atmospheric is full of influences of the present and the past. Occasione sounds rather retro, with a nod to the seventies when it comes to the musical interpretation. Velo is again pure contemporary folk, while a song like Dall’Occhio has dreamy pop influences with a “trippy” undertone and the vocals are sometimes even filled in with voices. Modesty, small compositions and even a kind of intimacy are terms that recur on my notebook. And that is perhaps also the best description for this work. Unfortunately not all tracks are equally convincing and sometimes the duo seems to be looking for coherence individually. I suspect that the recordings were not made in the same studio. In addition, the header voice that Moonchy occasionally uses is not entirely pure or pleasant to listen to.

    Still, Moonchy & Tobias manage to deliver a fairly unique album with Atmosfere. Partly thanks to the conscious choice to draw the listener’s attention to the somewhat alienating, intimate Italian vocals with relatively little trimmings and rather elongated, repetitive melody lines. As if on vacation you get a reading from the diary of your host’s daughter’s daughter, where you can read everything from the childish emotion transmission without understanding the words. You feel a bit uncomfortable and at the same time kind of honored that it is shared with you.

    All this makes Atmosfere a strange duck, which is further enhanced by the way in which some tracks end. Open, namely. The sound is appropriate, although the dynamics vary per track. A conscious choice, presumably. The second album from Moonchy & Tobias is really one for a select group and also offers room for development in the future. Yet this can be a nice discovery for those drizzly days that we can call winter in our country.”

    Hifi NL

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  • Moonchy & Tobias “Atmosfere” Reviewed at Keys and Chords

    [Translated via Google]

    The neopsyched indie rock duo Moonchy & Tobias was founded in 2018. The Italian Pat Moonchy sings, while the American Todd Tobias provides the music on all kinds of instruments. This is their second album, after their debut in 2018. Moonchy is half of the experimental band Sothiac, plays in duos alongside trombonist Angelo Contini and jazz drummer Lino Liguori, but also in the Tai-No Orchestra, and with the German krautrock pioneers Faust . Tobias has been working with Robert Pollard (Guides by Voices) for a long time and delivered the music for Pollard’s voice in the freak rock trio Circus Devils. He also released a number of instrumental albums, and a duet album with Chloe March. On this new disc they bring 12 short tracks, some instrumental, others sung again. Moonchy sings in Italian, sometimes sounds rarefied, and it all feels like dreamy pop. Atmospheric and somewhat mysterious is the best description for it.

    Keys and Chords

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  • Moonchy & Tobias “Atmosfere” Reviewed at De Subjectivisten

    [Translated from the original Dutch via Google]

    “One year ago the album Moonchy & Tobias brings together two special musicians, namely the Italian vocalist Pat Moonchy and the American multi-instrumentalist Todd Tobias. Moonchy has already released music under her own name, but can also be found in Sothiac, Doubleganger, One Lip 5, Pat Moonchy Trio and Tai No-Orchestra. Tobias in turn already has a broad and rich musical past with bands like 4 Coyotes, Brother Earth, Clouds Forming Crowns, Circus Devils (with Robert Pollard from Guided By Voices), Ricked Wicky and Psycho And The Birds. In addition, he does not leave himself unassumed in the solo field, since from 2012 albums will appear under his own name with some regularity and last year also one with Chloë March. Now Moonchy and Tobias are back with Atmosfere, of course released in the idiosyncratic, fun micro-label Tiny Room, where they sail a different course. No longer that whimsical mix of neoclassical, ambient, wave, avant-garde, gothic, art, post and psychedelic rock, but a subtle singer-songwriter sound. Guitar strumming thickened with moody electronics often form the basis on which Moonchy can show off her singing skills, which somehow sound like Chinese. Nevertheless, she also makes a more subdued sound. Where the music at first glance sounds a bit more ‘ordinary’, they make a profit here with the melancholy and mysterious atmosphere. That again results in a special (and) beautiful album, for which I also can’t easily come up with comparison material.”

    - De Subjectivisten

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  • Moonchy & Tobias “Atmosfere” Reviewed at Indebanvan

    [Translated from the Dutch via Google. Read the original here.]

    “Moonchy & Tobias is the musical collaboration between multi-instrumentalist and singer Pat Todd Tobias Moonchy. On the debut was sung in a made-up language. On this second album “Atmosfere” This again appears to be the case. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Moonchy & Tobias chooses Italian
    Italian Pat Moonchy sings this time in her native language. Not that it matters. In fact nothing to like what you do in the holiday gets it.

    Pat Moonchy takes you back into the past. When there were no devices with plugs and those endless conversations conducted with each other. After all, they had nothing. For the album “Atmosfere” is that you just have nothing else to do than to listen to tell Moonchy & Tobias. Soft guitar and delicate vocals bring peace.

    Brazilian influences
    It starts with the repetitive, instrumental ‘Arcabaleno. Title track “Atmosfere” subsequently many Brazilian influences from the school of Antônio Carlos Jobim. On “Lo Sguardo ‘is again the repetitive work of Todd Tobias that intoxicates.

    “Occasione ‘is slightly firmer and more worldly. You feel you are in the Middle East. These are influences that Todd Tobias does stop more often in his music. ‘Velo’ in Italian has a very different meaning. This duo casts a veil. ‘Amico’ sounds a lot friendlier ears.

    Led Zeppelin
    “Dall’Occhio ‘is Italian blues that I’m crazy enough to think all the time Led Zeppelin. That does not fall on deaf ears. Because in “Senso Del Tempo Moonchy and Tobias do their reputation as art rock duo honor. The song that most lingers is’ Pioggia e Sale “. A chilling melody, sung with emotion. On “Grumo” is even some hit potential of admiring. And so there is still plenty to explore on this wonderful album.”

    Indebanvan

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  • Moonchy & Tobias “Atmosfere” Reviewed at Music Won’t Save You

    [Translated from the Italian via Google. Read the original here.]

    “On the sidelines of the well-established one with Chloë March, Todd Tobias recently embarked on another collaboration with a female voice. In the case of Pat Moonchy, the historic name of the Milanese avant-garde who in turn presents an extremely varied and stimulating curriculum, the meeting had already resulted in a shared homonymous work published last year, which is now immediately followed in “Atmosfere “.

    While the first chapter of Moonchy & Tobias presented a more markedly experimental imprint, conveyed by the murky sound environments of the American artist and the deconstructed vocalizations of Moonchy, his immediate following denotes as a first novelty the presence of real texts, scanned in Italian in the form of declamations or harmonic movements, not always easily intelligible, that form a whole with instrumental substrates ranging from a surprising acoustic psychedelia to impervious twists under the sign of static electricity or liquid tension with wave contours post-punk.

    The fresco drawn by the twelve short passages of “Atmosfere” outlines a dystopian universe populated by ghostly echoes, but also at times softened by evident psych-folk nuances that, in particular in “Dall’occhio” and in the title track, show off a surprisingly flat writing, to balance the most intricate experimental ideas enclosed in a fruition work that is not always easy, but full of stimulating hybridizations of styles and sensibilities.”

    Music Won’t Save You

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Licensing

Todd Tobias’s music is  available for licensing (master & sync cleared) through Hidden Shoal. Please contact us with some basic details about your project and the track(s) you wish to use and we’ll be sure to get back to you straight away.

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