Chances are, if you’re talking about Japanese math/post-rock, you’re talking about toe; after all, they’ve been true trailblazers and standard-bearers in their country’s branch of said genres (and beyond) for a long time now. And who would be better-suited to discuss their beloved sophomore release For Long Tomorrow, which closes in on being 12 years old, than our resident Japanese math rock expert Inter? Nobody, that’s who. So strap in, get comfortable, and let’s see what he has to say about this masterpiece.
Writing about toe means more to me than just praising a good album. To put into words how much this album, how much this band means to me, I have to reach back a bit more.
Around 10 years ago, my favorite band for certain was Between The Buried And Me. Colors had really strong impact to my younger self, fulfilling my interests in progressive music and metal equally. Even a tattoo with some lyrics was in the making, at least in my head. After a couple of years, I was maybe 21 or 22, I felt some distance building between my favorite band and how I felt about music. Or to rephrase, about what I was searching for in music. During this time, I experienced a lot of readjustment and re-evaluation over my relationship to music and what I get from it. A new level of humility formed inside of me, reflecting on how ‘vast’ my knowlegde about music really is and coming to the understanding that the more you delve into art in general, the more you realize that its shapes and forms are basically endless, and that learning about it and getting surprised by it is the real joy.
It was this time that I learned about toe.
The process of getting into their music and their whole approach to being artists and a band is still ongoing, and I don’t boast when I say that it influenced me more than any other experience I had with music. Not only did they spark my interest in Japanese music in the first place, an interest that turned into a full-grown and luckily healthy obsession over the years, but it let me determine a quality in art that I cherish to this day as probably the most precious, at least in books: the symbiosis of accessibility and complexity.
There is definitely a lot happening on For Long Tomorrow, the album I’m talking about in this text, somehow, and there are moments in which it can get overwhelming. Nevertheless, one of toe‘s biggest qualities as a band is the inviting nature of their art. I’m not saying that For Long Tomorrow is best at that. It was simply the first album to passionately swipe me off my feet with how invited and special it made me, the listener, feel. On all releases, from Songs, Ideas We Forgot to Our Latest Number, the band made always clear that they play their music for themselves first and foremost, because they want to create and express it, it’s how they feel, it’s how it should be. What they do with a impalpable magic is inviting you into their space with warmth and joy. Every song is a reaching hand, a welcome to join in on the ride. While doing so, toe glide, dance and tiptoe between overwhelming crescendos, moments of intimate repose, imperfections that feel more human than music should be allowed to feel and flashes of transcending beauty, far brighter than everything else.
All that happens all the time in toe‘s music, simultaneously. It gives what you need, be it comfort, uproar, challenge, closure or motivation. What this album and this band did to me over the years can’t be explained, even after I tried doing so with those words.
If you’re finding out about this band with this text, give them a chance. It’s possible that you’ll feel nothing, because your toe has another name. I don’t wish for everyone to feel the same about this band, but I hope everyone is able to experience this feeling somewhen in their lives towards something. It’s on you to find it, and to appreciate when you have it. Getting so much love, inspiration and warmth out of music made me trying to be a better person. With all the shit happening in our world, at least some people out there create things to be loved, which is just another word for hope in my books.