Renaldo & The Loaf
About Renaldo & The Loaf
An English duo whose experiments drew comparisons to the Residents -- not least because they released albums on the band's Ralph Records label -- Renaldo & the Loaf is the project of architect Brian Poole (aka Renaldo Malpractice) and pathologist David Janssen (alias Ted the Loaf). Coupled with an eccentric viewpoint, the group's inventive use of tape loops and acoustic instruments such as mandolin, bouzouki, and clarinet made Renaldo & the Loaf distinctive even within the realm of experimental music.
Poole and Janssen met at school in the late '60s and bonded over a shared love of Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Incredible String Band, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, and folk music, and soon began making music together. They played a handful of dates in the early '70s, then went on hiatus for a few years due to their studies. When they began working together again, their music took inspiration from Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, and incorporated tape delay and prepared guitars. As Poole and Janssen's improvisations gained more structure, they began recording as Plimsollline. In 1978, they scored a record contract to release the album Tap Dancing in Slush and the EP Behind Closed Curtains, but the deal fell through and both works remained unreleased until 2014.
Poole and Janssen persevered, upgraded their recording equipment, and condensed their songs after seeking advice from Rough Trade's Geoff Travis. By 1979, they had enough material to issue their debut recording as Renaldo & the Loaf, the self-released cassette Struvé & Sneff. The band came to the attention of Ralph Records later that year, when Poole dropped off a copy of the cassette while visiting San Francisco. When the label asked the duo for more music, Renaldo & the Loaf sent tracks as they finished them, culminating with the release of their Ralph debut Songs for Swinging Larvae in 1981. That year, director Graeme Whitler made a short film of the same name set to a medley of songs from the album that also became a cult classic. Poole and Janssen continued to expand their sound, incorporating keyboard on their 1983 album Arabic Yodelling. That year also saw the release of Title in Limbo, a joint release from Renaldo & the Loaf and the Residents that was recorded when the duo officially met the group in 1981. The rarities collection Olleh Olleh Rotcod arrived in 1985 as a limited-edition release from Rough Trade, and a year later, the single "Hambu Hodo" offered an early taste of Poole and Janssen's next album. The royalties from Title in Limbo enabled the duo to buy state-of-the-art studio equipment, and 1987's The Elbow Is Taboo was Renaldo & the Loaf's most sophisticated-sounding music yet. However, the making of the album took its toll, and after recording the sea shanty "Haul on the Bowline" for a Ralph compilation, the duo broke up in 1988.
Over the years, Poole released music as a part of Fiction Friends and the Shouting Hat, while Janssen issued solo material as Mr. Sneff and the Darkening Scale and collaborated with Sylvie Walder as the Tapeworm Vessel. In 2006, the launch of the Renaldo & the Loaf website reunited the duo, who wrote songs for the 2007 film Kirk Mannican's Liberty Mug. In 2014, Klanggalerie reissued Renaldo & the Loaf's discography (as well as Tap Dancing in Slush and Behind Closed Curtains) with bonus material. Two years later, the label released the duo's first album in nearly three decades, the early music-inspired Gurdy Hurding. In 2018, Renaldo & the Loaf played its first live show in 38 years as part of Klanggalerie's 25th anniversary celebration. ~ Heather Phares