Pitchfork (Website) - "Public Memory's Robert Toher mostly succeeds in creating a dark electronic landscape that is his own -- and slightly claustrophobic at that."
With his previous project ERAAS, Robert Toher's music often seemed caught between the post-rock of his first band, Apse, and something -- or somewhere -- harder to define and more interesting. Toher reaches that destination with Public Memory, a name that perfectly captures the almost subliminal, otherworldly-yet-familiar territory he's working in. Made with little more than a Korg MS-20, guitar, and field recordings, Wuthering Drum's pared-down instrumentation allows Toher the freedom to combine more diverse elements into an even more singular sound. While his influences are apparent -- a hint of Massive Attack here, a trace of Radiohead there, and an affinity with Clinic's transcendent grooves throughout -- he doesn't lean on them too heavily. Indeed, there's an ease to Wuthering Drum that ERAAS' music never had. Nothing ever feels forced, whether Toher meshes a looped windchime with the beat on "Heir" with equally spontaneous and lulling results, or gives "Zig Zag" a vaguely futuristic Middle Eastern cast. The watercolor delicacy with which he layers Wuthering Drum's sounds is even more impressive considering how dense his palette is on songs like the stunning "Ringleader," where he balances suffocating fuzz bass with sparkling piano and stark beats. On tracks such as this one and "As You Wish," where rubbery synths and shuddering rhythms convey a sense of spring-loaded momentum, Toher builds on ERAAS' impressionistic powers by misting away any hard edges. His voice is more spectral and fragile than ever, and on songs like "Domino," it has more emotional impact than ever before, even if it's harder to make out exactly what he's singing. This precise ambiguity makes Wuthering Drum's mood hard to place yet distinctive, teetering somewhere between ominous on "Mirror"'s witching hour rites and oddly serene on "Lunar," which has the emotional heft of a hard-won accomplishment. Paradoxically, Toher's music has become more powerful as he's made it more delicate, and Wuthering Drum is a compelling debut that casts a lingering spell. ~ Heather Phares