toe

Hear You

Written by: PP on 09/01/2016 18:45:49

After fifteen years of praise as an influential group within the Japanese math rock / instrumental rock scene, toe decided to expand their reach to international audiences by releasing their third album "Hear You" via Topshelf Records six months ago. It's a captivating record of contrasts, an instrumental masterpiece which incorporates few vocals, a record where minimalist thematics mesh side-by-side with almost cacophonous barrages of rhythmic, totally unique pulsations of math rock inspired instrumental virtuosity. In short, even if instrumental music isn't your thing, toe is likely the band that will convince you otherwise.

"Hear You" is almost impossible to pigeonhole, given its liberal approach to experimentation and avant-garde ideology. Some tracks concentrate on looping guitar melodies forming hypnotic soundscapes that seem like they're designed to circle forever before abruptly interrupted, whereas others provide insight into why many suggest Kashikura Takashi belongs in a discussion about the finest drummers of the last decade or so. His style is not just peculiar, it's downright incredible. The drum textures, patterns, and fills are inventive and unique, masterfully orchestrating the rest of the expression through clever intricacies that take a few extra listens to fully absorb. The highlight of "Hear You", for sure, which is perhaps best heard on "My Little Wish", where halfway through the song the tempo is increased to almost superhuman levels on the drums to create a climaxing point of instrumentalism that few other, if any, bands in this genre possess.

But that's not all. The band's usage of subdued electronics sparing use of soothing vocals recalls Portugal. The Man's masterpiece "It's Complicated Being A Wizard", which featured a similarly enchanting marriage between electronics, loops, experimental instrumentation and art-rock without ever becoming too avant-garde for the regular listener to understand. The same thing applies on "Hear You". Then, out of nowhere, "Time Goes" delves into Japanese hip-hop while retaining the hypnotic nature of toe's sound. "Commit Ballad" could be an indie rock track given its soothing female vocals and a relatively catchy nature, but it's the polar opposite to something like "Because I Hear You", where effect-laden guitars and smooth bass meet unusual rhythmic arrangements once again.

As you can see, elements of math rock, instrumental rock, and post-rock are freely being mashed against other styles of music in an approach that's not just thinking outside of the box but forgetting the existence of any boxes in the first place. It's rare to hear an expression as artistically complete and liberal as toe's take on the genre on "Hear You", which certainly makes it one of the majestic, underrated gems from 2015 for sure. Worth listening just for its instrumental virtuosity found, especially, behind the drum kit.

Download: Commit Ballad, My Little Wish
For the fans of: dredg, This Town Needs Guns, Portugal. The Man
Listen: Facebook

Release date 24.07.2015
Topshelf Records

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