New Music – Toni Smalls ‘The Midnight Zone’

Prickling lyricism that sticks to the skin, all tickling and tingle, it mingles and lingers like the electric static of the music’s melodic hum to stand your hairs on end.

The fuzzy buzzing sheathing you in its aura and drawing you in like gravity to its inescapably heavy mass.

Every line is a fractured and glinting shard of a prism, catching at refracted feelings and imagery that cuts sharp as a diamond edge.

In isolation they are in no way dulled but if you take a step back to view the kaleidoscopic whole you’ll find yourself tumbling into the Kubla Khan-esque epic nature of the fugue state feelings and vivid imagery.

Trying to unweave the glistening strands of the wondrously woven web of wordplay is impossible. Toni Smalls delivers each line with a furious passion and feeling tangling them inexorably together.

The track ends with a beautiful and soulful haunting melodic refrain that provides the duality and reference for these fractured and frantic feelings.

This is spoken word with a purpose, with true grit and bravery. It isn’t pretty, it draws blood and tears in equal measure and mixes them together in the dirt to make a pallet unpalatable, shades of colours we don’t usually wear out in polite society.

It is vulnerable in the truest sense and honest to the point that it’s shocking, because we encounter both concepts so rarely.

If you have ever spent any time in The Midnight Zone yourself you may recognise these manic, primal, and sometimes scary bubbling thoughts and feelings. But you cannot tame what you do not understand, speaking them out loud does not conjure them, silence will not keep them at bay.

The Midnight Zone acts as the finale to Toni Smalls 5 track spoken word EP Under Inner Core, head over to the Bandcamp and check out the project as a whole.

Words by Matt Miles

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