Robin Hatch's New Album 'T.O.N.T.O.' Features the Legendary Synth

The Canadian composer's latest features members of Islands, BADBADNOTGOOD, Dr. Dog and more

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Sep 2, 2021

Robin Hatch is the latest in a line of artists who have recorded on the famed TONTO synthesizer. The Toronto-based composer and multi-instrumentalist will share new album T.O.N.T.O., named for the iconic instrument, on October 29.

Recording sessions for T.O.N.T.O. saw Hatch travel to Calgary's National Music Centre, where the first — and still the largest — multitimbral polyphonic analog synthesizer in the world has called home since 2013.

The result is a nine-song set that a release says is "at times frantic and arresting and others in pleasing comfort," serving as "an honest and raw interpretation of the id within us all."

For the uninitiated, the TONTO synth (shorthand for The Original New Timbral Orchestra) was co-created by Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff, a British-American duo who first used their creation recording albums as Tonto's Expanding Head Band in the early 1970s.

The instrument's selection of custom-made modules and pieces from synth manufacturing mainstays like Moog, Oberheim, EMS, Roland, Yamaha and more are housed within curved, six-foot tall wooden cabinets, arranged in a semicircle that is 20 feet in diameter.

Following a pair of albums with the Expanding Head Band, TONTO would be famously featured on four revered, consecutive full-length albums by Stevie Wonder, on which Cecil and Margouleff are credited as associate producers, engineers and programmers: 1972's Music of My Mind and Talking Book, 1973's Innervisions, and 1974's Fulfillingness' First Finale.

From there, TONTO would be featured on albums from the likes of the Isley Brothers, Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, Quincy JonesBobby WomackWeather ReportHarry NilssonJames TaylorDiana Ross and more.

Joining Hatch for her turn with TONTO are BADBADNOTGOOD's Leland Whitty, Dr. Dog's Eric Slick, Völur's Laura Bates, Nick Thorburn of Islands, drummer Lowell Whitty and saxophonist Joseph Shabason.

Mastering of T.O.N.T.O. was handled by Margouleff, while the album arrives dedicated to Cecil, who passed away in March at age 84.

"Brazil" is the first song from the effort to arrive, and you can hear Slick and Leland Whitty respectively add drums and saxophone to Hatch's synth playing below.


1. Buttercups
2. Brazil (feat. Eric Slick & Leland Whitty)
3. Airplane (feat. Laura Bates)
4. Mockingbird (feat. Nick Thorburn)
5. Inspector (feat. Lowell Whitty)
6. My Lucid Mind
7. Rest Stop
8. The Standoff (feat. Joseph Shabason)
9. Water

Pre-order T.O.N.T.O.

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