Loitering in the alleyway behind the red velvet ropes barring the entrance to the club of rock stardom in Tokyo is Toe. The under-appreciated band combines four highly talented individuals, an array of instruments and a mix of post and math rock.
Toe includes drummer Kashikura Takashi, bassist Yamane Satoshi and Yamazaki Hirokazu and Mino Takaaki on guitar. The band has been playing with this original line up since they formed in 2000.
Their sound draws from the genre of post-rock by using instruments commonly used in rock music like the guitars and bass and throwing off this average sound with an unexpected rhythm and melody. The band’s unusual melodies and beyond average rhythms draw from the aspects of math-rock. Their instrumentally dominated sound slips smoothly out of your speakers in a chill, jam band like sound, perfect for the upcoming months of summer.
Toe released their first EP in 2002 titled songs, ideas we forgot. The record included five songs and gave Toe a chance to break out into the Tokyo music scene. The EP was a decent release that led to a more perfected sound in their 2005 album the book about my idle plot on a vague anxiety. Within a year they released their third EP New Sentimentality. With this record Toe broke away from their solely instrumental sound and featured vocals from outside artists. This was just the added boost the group needed. The track “Goodbye” is the best off of the EP is one of their few songs to feature vocals.
Toe’s sound is generally dominated by instruments and always void of vocals. Take ultimate jam band Phish and give them a slightly more modern sound with a few different instruments and you’ve got something along the lines of Toe. Tracks are generally dominated by the smooth guitar melodies and there are no out of control hair band type riffs. The melody flows perfectly, never veering to far off its track. The beat is easy to listen too, not requiring too much attention; the perfect music to simply sit back and absorb. The one instrument that changes up the tempo is the drums. Takashi manages to change up the tempo and throw it off now and then with his drumming. While the guitar and bass stick to their rhythm, the drums keep it simple then every once in awhile throw in a change-up, mixing up the beat.
Toe’s music is perfect for those lazy summer evenings spent relaxing but the best part, like so many bands, is their performance. The chemistry between the members is clear on their records but even more obvious on in their live performances. Each member moves in time with the music and each other creating on big, simultaneous bob on stage in time with their flow. Their music has a timeless element to it so don’t expect them to be standing behind those red velvet ropes for too much longer.