Born in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada and currently living in Hamilton, Toui Manikhouth set out to create music wildly different from past projects with his upcoming double EP release, This Service / The Fire and Disguise. Out on April 4th, his first release on Maisonneuve Music is a quiet revelation, a collection of sweet, thoughtfully composed acoustic songs that thread together seamlessly. His organic, home-based recording style adds a relatable sense of authenticity to the project.
This style of music speaks to Manikhouth’s overall versatility as an artist. It’s a drastic departure from his other musical endeavor, the Dunnville/Hamilton-based metal band Hey Clown. By entertaining these dual sides of his artistic personality, he adds a well-rounded flair to his songwriting arsenal.
This Service / The Fire and Disguise features strong original work gently inflected by Toui’s varied influences. He draws from classic artists like the Beatles, Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, as well as the more modern sounds of The Milk Carton Kids and Chore. He captures the lovely, quick strumming guitars of The Spinto Band and transforms them into a more personal creation. The tracks are full of longing, propelled forward swiftly by his deft guitar work.
Toui’s softly mesmerizing vocal style is a hallmark of the release. His vocals comprise a smooth blend of separate influences, tied together in an original, earnest way by Manikhouth. His production process is experimental, and he takes liberties with crafting intricate overlays and inventive guitar parts.
“The Fire and Disguise” is a standout track on the EP. It opens with a catchy loop, paired with a little synth to add texture to the overall sound. The vocal overlays are simple yet make for a fuller, more luscious sound. It took the longest of the collection to complete, and it also stands out as the song with the most overt polish.
The overall tone of the EP is simple and decidedly elegant; it’s bedroom listening inflected with a soulful vocal. This Service / The Fire and Disguise showcases a less traditional singer-songwriter who puts tracks together with a great sense of melody, engaging yet calming instrumentation and a general cohesiveness that makes the entire album ideal to take in time and time again.