O!susume – toe

Broadcast 11: toe

Welcome back to O!susume RadioBeat – Erin’s got our first broadcast for April, with the long-running math rock band toe.

Members

Guitar. Yamazaki Hirokazu

Bass. Yamane Satoshi

Guitar. Mino Takaaki

Drums. Kashikura Takashi

 

Years Active

2000-Present

 

Location

Tokyo, Japan

Who Is toe?

toe is a post-rock, math rock, mostly instrumental indie quartet from Tokyo consisting of Yamazaki Hirokazu and Mino Takaaki on guitar, Yamane Satoshi on bass, and Kashikura Takashi on drums. Since 2000 the quartet has been together while also working on their own personal projects: Yamazaki is an interior designer, Mino is a recording engineer, Yamane is a shoe designer, and Kashikura is a professional drummer who has worked with different artists throughout the years. 

If this is your first time hearing the term “math rock”, it’s usually characterized by complex rhythms with atypical time signatures, and other elements that might change throughout any given song. Math rock and post-rock share some qualities, where the focus is usually on textures and other experimental components such as electronics rather than traditional rock structures. toe combines the two indie genres into their own unique style, with success in the genres both in Japan and in the United States. 

What I love about toe is similar to what I love about Japanese music in general; often Japanese music is through-composed with a focus on rhythmic progression throughout a given song, and math-rock is the perfect genre to expand on that. toe’s music is melodic and gentle, yet complex and interesting to listen to with the drums as an intricate driving force throughout. I’ve often listened to the band as background music, but they are also great for active listening. I had the pleasure of seeing them live in 2018, and their energy was both down-to-earth and highly skilled. Overall, I had a great experience!

I was first introduced to the band with a video of one of their live performances of “グッドバイ-album version-” (Goodbye) off of For Long Tomorrow (2009) featuring vocals from Toki Asako. “グッドバイ”  is still one of my favorite songs from toe, and I think it’s a great introduction to get a feel for their energy. This album was released on their indie record label MachuPicchu Industrias, and shortly after the label Topshelf Records picked up their next EP and re-released a lot of their back catalog in the United States. On a side note, I’d definitely recommend checking out Topshelf Records website and maybe getting on their email list if you want to be introduced to an array of great niche artists. I appreciate the graphic design of the website, and I love how meticulously tagged everything isso here’s toe’s page to check out.

“グッドバイ” was also released on toe’s EP New Sentimentality (2006) when they released a music video for the song that features some cool live action stop-motion videography. This version has male vocals from the band and has a little bit of a different feel to it, so I couldn’t help but share both versions for you to enjoy.

“after image” is a song also from toe’s album For Long Tomorrow (2009) featuring vocals from Harada Ikuko. This video is a slow-motion and somewhat uncanny production featuring a person and some eels in a short but emotive narrative. This short video is a great example of toe’s music in generaleach song is a forward-moving microcosm of fluid emotion communicating a melodious story in a short time. The album For Long Tomorrow is also a great album to start with if you are interested in listening to more from toe. 

“レイテストナンバー” or “The Latest Number” is a song from the EP Our Latest Number (2018) with a laid back and nostalgic feel overall. The EP was arranged to simply put out some of their most recent songs they wrote and the video translates that feeling as well. The video is a home-video style narrative of some friends having fun over the summer and the director apparently filmed his own friends instead of using actors in order to express more of that intimacy. The vocals match the laid-back style of the song, and overall it’s pleasant to listen to. 

Bonus: toe seems to like to tour with some pretty cool bands, and suffice it to say I was very happy to see them do an online concert with one of my favorite bands in 2021. They collaborated with the Taiwanese math-rock/postrock band Elephant Gym which are also on Topshelf Records. After the concert, Elephant Gym sampled from toe’s song “two moons” from the album For Long Tomorrow and put out their own twist on it with their song “Go Through the Night.” Watch it here: https://youtu.be/-WGaDoOlHwo 

 

Artist Links

Topshelf Records: https://www.topshelfrecords.com/roster/toe

Bandcamp: https://toe-music.bandcamp.com/album/our-latest-number-3 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/toemusic 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/toemusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MiNO_tAKaAki  

 

Other Links

Article about toe: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2010/01/29/music/math-rockers-toe-take-it-slow/#.XCdbhc9Kg1I

Interview with toe: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/09/5e187dd6597b-japanese-post-rock-band-toe-rocks-out-brooklyn-shares-thoughts-on-new-ep-and-personal-life.html

What is Math Rock? https://youtu.be/MF4Fs1lgYc8

You can watch one of toe’s feature length performances here if you’re interested.

 

This Broadcast was written by Erin; you can find them on instagram at @thekniterin.

Author: Nagi