Review Summary: A great offering of post-rock that leaves you hungry for their next full-length album.
From the introductory snapping of sticks (or thumbs, I'm not quite sure) to the outro sample of birds chirping, Toe
easily manages to keep any listener fully absorbed throughout the course of the EP. Although this should be a simple task for most somewhat-talented groups (especially with a four-track, 20 minute recording), Toe
impresses especially with their extremely capable rhythm section. Hailing from Japan, the quartet is comprised of:
- Kashikura Takashi / Drums
- Mino Takaaki / Guitar
- Yamane Satoshi / Bass
- Yamazaki Hirokazu / Guitar
- Beyond this seemingly basic rhythm and guitar setup, the almost pearl-drop sound of a rhodes piano is sprinkled throughout the album.
For the sake of comparison, Toe
most closely resembles an eclectic interbreeding between Do Make Say Think
and Don Caballero
. That is, the drummer is absolutely fantastic, yet tasteful, and the other instrumentalists create a dreamy post-rock atmosphere - sans the synth overdose that typifies Do Make Say Think
's ambiance. A constant in most post-rock, the group manages to successfully employ minimalism through slight melodic and dynamic shifts in their (primarily acoustic, but also clean electric) guitar-riffing. The mentioned rhodes piano tends to feed off of the guitar playing in a way; it's hard to notice, but in many areas it adds to the composition as a kind of "icing on the cake", per se. The best example of this is on track three, "New Sentimentality".
All of this post-rock goodness manages to cast the perfect spotlight on the rhythm section. The bass work is outstanding, as the bassist effectively feeds off of either the melody or the drums when it makes sense to - he is not another "just there" bassist by any means. The star of the show, Kashikura Takashi (drums), is the real deal - and the true substance of Toe
. A master of his trade, he rarely overplays, all of his fills are exceptional, and his snare work is especially impressive, as exemplified by track two, "1/21".
However, there are a couple points that keep New Sentimentality
from being a truly exceptional post-rock masterpiece. One aspect that slightly turned me off were the vocals present on the final track, "Goodbye"; the vocalist isn't tone deaf, he's just mediocre and doesn't do anything for the band (with his voice obviously), which really brought down the EP a peg for me. Most importantly, even though the drummer is the focal point of the band and is truly talented, he does overplay at times. In the title track, there are just too many things going on at that drum set for it to be a coherent song; it nearly sounds like a four-minute-long drum solo. Although slightly detracting, it's pretty damn awesome for any drummer to behold.
I highly recommend this album to any fan of post-rock and to any serious drummer. Takashi is one of those drummers that could bring his snare to your house and keep you entertained for quite a while.
Songs to check out
- "New Sentimentality" (but be prepared for extreme rhythmic masturbation)