Released: 2006.12.06 (DDCM-7001)
Label: Machu Picchu Industries
Toe is the kind of band that comes along and opens up your horizons on what a genre or style is capable of, after it's been "dying" or idling. A sort of revival. Toe is often considered to be math rock, post rock, or a blend of the two, but in reality they've at least begun to take it to a new level with a style unlike most others. From their initial releases "Songs, Ideas We Forgot" to "The Book About My Idle Plot on A Vague Anxiety", they demonstrated steady improvement since. And that's saying alot. The Book was an epic album, which I've listened to at least a hundred times. 16 months later, they released New Sentimentality. Let's just say they've improved once again.
Toe initially began as a barebones instrumental four-piece that just rocked their shit (just listen to it if you're not familiar with the band), but recently they've begun to experiment with different textures and instruments such as the xylophone and acoustic guitars, while retaining their groove and style- which seems to improve and remove the limitations of the band- if they had any to begin with.
For the fans of instrumental music, I feel obligated to write a section on the instrumentation on this album. And I must say, the instrumentation is ridiculously impressive. As always Takashi Kashikura kills it on the drums, in a way that I don't believe is overly masturabatory. Even if it was, it wouldn't matter too much because it's SO AWESOME. Even for Takashi Kashikura, the New Sentimentality EP definetely showcases some of his most impressive (and expressive) drumming that I've ever heard from... well, anybody. His style is at least as inventive and creative as his contemporary Zach Hill, although entirely different. This makes it all the more fucked that Zach Hill gets legions of fans vs. Kashikura, which only a few cult followers that have even heard of him.
What about the other musicians?!
Sorry, I was caught up in writing about Kashikura's pure awesomeness. Of course, the other musicians play major roles in the band and may have equal importance to Kashikura. Without them, their sense of melody and half of the character expressed through their music would be gone. The guitar players compliment each other extremely well, in their personal Toe way. Although some American Football influence can be heard, they've developed their own style enough to call it their own. The bassist compliments the guitars perfectly with minimalist basslines and a tastefulness that is hard to come by.
But this doesn't mean that their music is flawless. Another problem with their 'genre', per se, is the fact that many bands that play within it end up with many songs sounding similar to each other, or to other bands (i.e Explosions In The Sky). Although Toe's experimentation involving new textures and instruments do enhance their sound, they don't deviate from their song-structural framework enough for New Sentimentality to be considered as the band's breakthrough album. Regardless, I believe that they may still be evolving past the fundamentals of their style and creating something I can hardly even imagine. LISTEN,
1 - Tsunagaru Haruka Kanata
2 - 1/21
3 - New Sentimentality
4 - Goodbye