The psychedelic pop of Dutch quintet Torii seems to deftly breeze by without a care in the world: warm, wistful and weightless. Multiple listens to the band’s debut album Return To Form (Mink Records, 2020), however, reveal a stark antithesis of that snap judgment: each one of these eleven tracks was written, composed and recorded with painstaking, deliberate care in the band’s own studio: The Womb Studio. Founder Domenico Mangione transmutes troubled feelings of trauma, lonesomeness, and alienation into his intricate, spectral production values.
Torii started as a solo project that found Mangione demoing tracks in an abandoned school building. This rather desolate scenery, plus the screeching of the seagulls that terrorised the area, provided the perfect echo chamber for the Dutch musician & producer to find his definitive voice, at his desired pace. Soon after releasing debut EP Submerged in 2016, the band played critically-renowned festivals and venues, namely Paradiso, De School, Incubate, Grasnapolsky and Le Guess
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Now a steady five-piece ensemble – Mangione, multi-instrumentalist/producer Tijmen van Wageningen, guitarist/lap steel player Willem Oostendorp, keyboardist Jilles van Kleef, and drummer Olivier Schiphorst – Torii began using Mangione’s free-spirited recording methods as the root for fully-realised studio splendour. ‘Return To Form’ is the kind of singular pop record that treats dissonance and tunefulness as a calming symbiosis, and though the five musicians responsible have traveled radically different paths, they all met halfway within the album’s strange disembodied zone. And, ultimately, the music itself became a product of Torii’s collective empathy and compassion.
Debut album ‘Return To Form’ was released digitally and on 12’’ vinyl on 21 February 2020 on tastemaker indie label Mink Records. Internationally acclaimed BLIP Agency supports the band on the live front. The band signed a publishing deal with Mink Music Publishing & Cloud 9, and their single ‘Heat Lightning’ was used under a worldwide digital Tommy Hilfiger campaign. The release of their album was followed by sold out release shows at tastemaker venues such as De School (Amsterdam), Ekko (Utrecht), and Vera (Groningen).
A full national tour followed, after which the band was set to play (showcase) shows in Berlin, Paris, Lisbon and the U.K. Unfortunately the international live plans had to be postponed due to Covid-19.
Torii released two singles ‘Heat Lightning’ and ‘Forward Retreat’ in the lead up to their album. They received praise from platforms such as BBC Radio 6 (Gideon Coe and Tom Ravenscroft being fans), 3FM (where they played a live show), Amazing Radio (that playlisted both of the singles), Radio X, 3VOOR12, The Daily Indie, Louder than War (UK), Eat Your Own Ears (UK) and many more. Streaming platforms showed significant playlist support, especially Spotify, who included each release in New Music Friday lists as well as other major national playlists. The record did especially well on the vinyl-sales front, with many Dutch record shops pushing the release.