p: Yoshiharu Ota


For You, Someone Like Me

Since forming in 2000, toe have synthesized everything from pop, post- and math-rock, jazz, R&B, and electronic into one of the most distinct sounds in rock music. Their debut LP the book about my idle plot on a vague anxiety (2005) left an unmistakable imprint across the splintered worlds of instrumental and experimental music, exploding the tenets of post-rock with writing and performances that channel the intensity of hardcore.

toe have kept the same lineup since their inception. Yamazaki Hirokazu’s acoustic and Mino Takaaki’s electric guitars often juxtapose one another against the backdrop of drummer Kashikura Takashi’s unmatched sense of feel and rhythm, specializing in phrases that trick the listener with unanticipated backbeats and climactic gasps. Bassist Yamane Satoshi lends depth to the staccato, explorative melodies, gluing them to, and making sense of Takashi’s unique style.

The debut’s follow-up, For Long Tomorrow (2009), was a breakthrough that explored their pop and jazz DNA, as well cementing comparisons to post-rock forebears and contemporaries like Tortoise. For Long Tomorrow also produced one of toe’s better known songs in “グッドバイ / Goodbye,” a re-recording of the 2006 track from the New Sentimentality EP, this time featuring Japanese pop singer Asako Toki.

2015’s Hear You was defined by its loosening of the rhythmically frenzied work that predated it. Understated instrumentation stretched and smeared style and genre spectra, as heard in the piano-laden “オトトタイミングキミト”; the drumless rap on “Time Goes”; and the tabla, synth, and chanting in “G.O.O.D L.U.C.K.” Although such experimentation was always foreshadowed by the band’s early EPs songs, ideas we forgot (2003) and The Future Is Now (2012)—and later echoed by Our Latest Number (2018)—Hear You is still subdued, a marked departure from the band’s prior work.

NOW I SEE THE LIGHT (2024), toe’s fourth full-length album, is a bridge between the experimental restraint of their later work and the explosive abandon of their earlier output. From the opening tracks, toe balance serpentine passages against meditative repetition. On “LONELINESS WILL SHINE,” “サニーボーイ・ラプソディ,” and “NOW I SEE THE LIGHT,” Hirokazu reprises his role as part-time vocalist, breaking the band yet further from the instrumental work that formerly defined them. As a whole, NOW I SEE THE LIGHT closes the loop between early and late toe, giving them a clean slate for their new outlook.

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Kashikura Takashi - drums
Mino Takaaki - guitar
Satoshi Yamane - bass
Yamazaki Hirokazu - guitar

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"The thing that's always set toe apart from its technically minded peers is its ability to tell short, concise stories — ecstatic, noodly, complex pop songs that unfold in less than five minutes."
-NPR Music

"Clear channel guitar (Mino Takaaki and Yamazaki Hirokazu) that is as fluid and beautiful as running water yet as precise as machinery, bass (Yamane Satoshi) that runs deep and strong like veins beneath the skin of the songs, and wildly brilliant percussion (Kashikura Takashi) which goes back and forth between busy and intricate to mellow and minimal."
-AXS Entertainment

"...a huge body of work full of complex melodies and thoughtful songwriting, it has more than enough for older fans to get their teeth into, yet is also accessible enough for those just beginning to dip their “toe” into the huge lake that is post-rock and the associated genres"
-Already Heard

"Toe continues pushing the already nebulous boundaries of post-rock with apparent ease."
-A.V. Club

"Progressively intricate and aggressively delicate; toe provides listeners with twisted instrumentals fantastic for an in-depth listen, or stimulating background noise."
-Surviving the Golden Age

"Well worth the wait, "For Long Tomorrow" is a compelling listen that retains the phenomenally played, complex arrangements of its predecessor, but sees Toe expanding their sound to incorporate a much stronger postrock feel. Densely packed with many different textures “Our Next Movement” flirts with experimental funk while “Say It Ain’t So” is pure soul.
-Japan Times

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