SONGS OF LOVE AND SUICIDE – An Original Video Album by Damien Tavis Toman
In the last decade, Damien Tavis Toman has publicly released something in the area of 30 conventional audio albums under his own name and a number of pseudonyms. Songs of Love and Suicide marks a highly significant turn of the page. After a long period of silence following the elegantly produced album In Love with Death, Mr. Toman began in September 2015 to send me one live video after another of him performing new compositions unlike any he had written before, all of a stripped-down pop nature, and connected by the themes elucidated in the title I have given to this collection. By the end of October I had amassed nearly twenty of these performances and was in a serious quandary as to what I should do with them. After some thought, I arrived at the rather novel notion of compiling them into a video album, something between a full-length record and a private living room concert. The present volume is the result of that epiphany. While the original versions of these recordings are available individually on Archive.org, this album has been edited to comprise a fully-fleshed work of musical-cinematic art, bridging the decades between the folk revolution of the 50s and 60s and the present anything-goes digital era. Having obtained Mr. Toman’s blessing to undertake the project, I permitted myself the liberty of providing it with a personal introduction, explaining something of the origins of the long and strange relationship between this fascinating artist and myself. Naturally I recommend that you watch it straight through from beginning to end, just as you would when listening to any other conceptual album. There is variety enough here to please anyone and everyone–tragedy, irony, humor, social commentary, and personal reflection, all presented with the greatest possible intimacy. If you enjoy these songs half as much as I do, I will consider my labors consummately rewarded.
-V.G. Epstein, Nov. 2015