Toadstool at The Space Again. . .

. . . and it never gets old. Not only is the music of Toadstool completely new and free every time the ensemble performs, but different permutations of the band lead to very different feels and sounds. Unlike bands following more predictable genres or musical structures whose performance comfort is dictated by rehearsed perfection, the beauty of free music is its ability to adapt to any environment or personnel participation at a moments notice. On March 17, reed player Nicklas was unavailable. In what seems like a consistent theme of first-time musical meetings leading to success, Portland bassist and sound experimentalist Boyd Andersson joined Kevin and Chris for his debut performance at Austin Rich’s Mid Valley Mutation Noise Showcase at The Space on March 17. The roughly 13 minute set was captured on video and is an intimate documentary of this band’s creative operations in action . . .


Toadstool On ‘Mid-Valley Mutations’ Radio Show

On Friday June 2, the Toadstool crew were featured as a live act on Austin Rich’s KMUZ F.M. broadcast of ‘Mid Valley Mutations.’ The independent radio program featuring noise, experimental and other alternative types of sonic assaults, presented the band ind full form, performing two improvised insanity sets and lots of articulate rhetoric on the band’s existence and modus operandi. Thanks so much to Austin for this opportunity and for his support and enthusiasm of risky musics. . .Check the link to the program and podcast of the broadcast.


Toadstool, LIVE! (#54)

First Time Collaboration with Chris Rorrer Leads To Album, ‘Mosh Pit Economics’

On November 16, 2016 Toadstool’s Nicklas Waroff and Kevin Van Walk met with guitarist Chris Rorrer to run through some ideas for their upcoming performance at The Space. This was to be Chris’s debut with the duo and although Chris had worked with Kevin in other projects, he had never performed with Toadstool. A group of musicians like Toadstool,  specializing in improvisation, spontaneous composition, and the sonic experimentation that such extemporaneous pursuits yield are not generally concerned with the niceties and formalities of proper rehearsals. Not a single note, motif, or head has ever been written down when these gentlemen come together. But the evening’s “rehearsal” was more about connecting personally, spiritually and of course artistically; the musical equivalent of meeting for drinks to acquaint one another. The mic was turned on for the chance to document any possible moments of inspiration without any explicit desire to “record an album.” For over an hour the trio played non-stop, uttering not a single word until the band simply needed a break; Nicklas with his extreme breath exertion  was red-faced like a saxophone/clarinet-blowing tomato head, ready to explode;  Chris and Kevin all sweaty and breathless from assaulting their respective instruments looked as though they had stepped from the mosh pit of a thrash metal show.  Bathroom urinals beckoned, and then the band convened to an adjacent recreation room for a few minutes of ping pong, Kevin versus Chris and Nicklas. After twenty minutes with zero semblance of ping-pong ability, the trio thought a better use of time would be to reconvene to the studio. Kevin began singing an improvised ditty about a long-lost romantic interest named Suzy and the band launched into their last tune of the evening.

When the recordings were reviewed it was realized that more than “jamming”  or “getting to know one another” had occurred. Meaningful music had been made, sans previous meetings, or other bothersome preconceived notions of expectation. The guiding spirit of  truth and transparency and willing ignorance to ego  became manifested in these sonic journeys over the course of 1.5 hours. That may sound like alot of lofty, artsy BS, but it’s what happened. We hope you can feel that connectivity when you listen. . .

Toadstool To Perform at Portland Creative Music Guild Jan. 18

Toadstool, now featuring guitarist/sometimes vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Chris Rorrer (featured below in the video footage from The Space) is appreciative to announce its appearance on Wednesday,  January 18 2017 at the Creative Music Guild’s Outset series at Turn Turn Turn (8 NE Killingsworth) in Portland. The Creative Music Guild is a fantastic organization dedicated to the promotion and performance of exploratory, improvised, avant-garde (read that, not commercial/mainstream) music and related expression.

Showtime is 7 pm and Toadstool will be sharing the performance evening with Stochastic Mettle Union. Thanks to The Creative Music Guild for this fantastic opportunity.

Toadstool Performance at The Space

Kevin and Nicklas were joined on November 26 at The Space club in Salem with guitarist/vocalist Chris Rorrer for an evening of improvised musical insanity and beauty. Kevin and Nicklas met with Chris the previous week to meet, greet and play some music together. That first session was recorded and characterized by such a musical, spiritual and instinctual connectivity that the results will eventually be released as a proper album. In the meantime, check out the trio’s uninterrupted 37 minute set at The Space.

The Story of Toadstool

Toadstool was formed in April 2015 when percussionist Kevin Van Walk was seeking like-minded musicians to collaborate on post-jazz/free jazz approaches to musical improvisation and spontaneous composition. Inspired by noise, ambient, experimental and free jazz, Van Walk desired to blur the lines between acoustic and electronic musical application, recognizing the relation – however separated by time,  genre and spiritual longing – of free jazz and experimental noise music; in short, Albert Ayler meets Stockhausen meets Merzbow. Van Walk placed a craigslist ‘seeking musicians’ ad  and  Portland saxophonist Nicklas Waroff answered the call. Within a week of the reply, Waroff appeared on Van Walk’s doorstep, saxophone case in hand, and within two hours the newly acquainted duo had recorded their first album ‘Meeting.’ One month passed and the duo again reconvened to record their second album, ‘Meeting 2.0.’ Both recordings are a merger of primarily acoustic but also electronic sound textures, an elixir of jazz and ambient improvisational exploration, less angry, screaming free jazz, and more atmospheric soundscapes. However, the duo’s live appearances at the monthly Experiments in Noise series of showcases held in Corvallis and more recently at The Space in Salem showcase a much more visceral and aggressive side of the band. Toadstool has recently been joined by cellist/guitarist/vocalist Chris Rorrer who adds incendiary energy to the bands sonic foothold. Footage of those performances are available here. Check our comments page for more info. . .