When gifts of musical credibility were being handed
out, old Toyah was a fair way down the queue. From her nascent days as
brash new waver to the woman warrior who belted out a string of hits in
the early '80's, her success was always dogged by critical sniping.
But 'Ophelia's Shadow', her third album for the
esoteric EG label, sees her long disenfranchised from the pop mainstream.
Gone is the kitsch melodrama of old. 'Ophelia's Shadow' sounds like a marriage
of convenience between the vocal eccentricities of Danielle Dax and David
Sylvian's ambient soundscapes.
The mood is calm: keyboard and guitar lines weave
a subtle, spacious mesh around the songs. On 'Turning Tide' the rhythms
reach a CAN-like syncopation. The playing is neat and accomplished throughout
but what's missing is a shot of inspiration. There are signposts towards
some promising experimental directions, but frustratingly Toyah ends up
stuck in a musical cul-de-sac.
The highlight of the whole shebang is pianist
extraordinaire Keith Tippett's scintillating coda on 'Lords Of The Never
Known'. Unfortunately, it merely underlines what's lacking elsewhere.