Rafael Toral / Stuart Bannister
Rafael Toral, born in Lisbon, 1967 has been intrigued by the potential of sound and the functions of music since he was a teenager. As a composer and performer, he has been deeply involved with Rock, Ambient, Contemporary, Electronic and Free Jazz music in different periods of his life.
Working with electric guitar and electronics, in the 1990’s he created a blend of Ambient and Rock and recorded acclaimed albums like Wave Field or Violence of Discovery and Calm of Acceptance. By the early 2000’s he arrived to a sense of accomplishment about his previous 15 years of work, also realizing the world needed a different creative response. He decided to start something new, as radically different from the previous phase as possible. In a transition to vulnerable action, he launched the alien-sounding Space Program in 2004, using experimental electronic instruments. It’s been an ambitious long-term project exploring an approach to electronic music based on silence, through decision making and physical gesture, in a way inspired by post-free Jazz. The resulting music, “melodic without notes, rhythmic with no beat, familiar but strange, meticulous but radically free – riddled with paradox but full of clarity and space”, has been described as “a brand of electronic music far more visceral and emotive than that of his cerebral peers”.
In the last 15 years he’s been thinking and practicing an understanding of silence as “space”, with a clear function in music creation but also as a metaphor for social relationships and a statement on information and sensory overload.
Performing solo or in numerous collaborations (including Jim O’Rourke, Jim Baker, Sei Miguel, Chris Corsano, John Edwards, Evan Parker, Tatsuya Nakatani, Manuel Mota, Alvin Lucier, Phill Niblock, Christian Marclay, Sonic Youth, Rhys Chatham, Lee Ranaldo, C Spencer Yeh, and many others), he has been touring throughout Europe, Canada, USA, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
Also active in visual and spatial arts, Toral has produced video and several installations from 1994 to 2003. In 2014 he relocated to the mountains in central Portugal for a more sustainable life. In 2017, having concluded the Space Program’s recording series, Toral is entering a wider field with multiple directions and possibilities.
Photo: Nuno Martins
The sonic foundation to Stuart's music comes from a love of rock music across the ages, and particularly 'sparks' of sound that have stuck with him. These may have taken the form of fuzz, feedback, compression, or downright otherworldly strangeness, and are often peripheral to the song or structure in question.
Conventional instruments may feature but are likely to resemble a leaky homemade boat. Crude electronics and unpredictable electro-acoustic elements also slide around the deck.
Stuart has performed indoors and outdoors around Leeds/Bradford and the UK for 20-odd years, once as a member of prog-punk band Quack Quack and since as a solo noise-maker and collaborator. Recent projects have included backing David Thomas Broughton, playing on Ben Cummins' Piano Raft as it descended Five Rise locks, contributing to the Folklore Tapes, and - coming soon to Fuse - a duo with guitarist Dean McPhee called Rederator.