toe is a Japanese music group. While mentioned in many post-rock circles, their song structure and dynamics are similar to many popular math rock artists.

toe is composed of Kashikura Takashi on drums, Mino Takaaki on guitar, Yamane Satoshi on bass guitar, and Yamazaki Hirokazu on guitar. Toe has formally played with this line-up since the band’s inception in 2000. They are currently one of three bands on the indie label Machu Picchu, along with the band mouse on the keys and Enemies.

The vast majority of the music is instrumental and features the swift and acute drumming of Takashi. The band is also known for its melodic, clean guitar settings. Additionally, the compositions have repetition from typical rock motifs, but use very subtle changes in beat and rhythm to form a unique sound. The band has changed their sound over their musical tenure by incorporating acoustic guitars, rhodes piano, and vibraphones in their most recent releases.

The band tours regularly in Japan, and can most notably be compared to acts such as Pele and The Album Leaf.

The beauty of their majestic music is that is sounds as if mystical harmonies and raw emotion is being churned out at the same time. Their explosive live performances have had fans across the globe spellbound. Their inspiring performance at FUJI ROCK FESTIVAL 2010 has recently been the most memorable.
In December 2009 they released their new album "For Long Tomorrow" and in July 2010 they released their second DVD “CUT_DVD”.

I'm stuck in here / I'm stuck / Wish I didn't have a name / Wish I could get lost / I'm stuck in here / I'm stuck

The basic human desire to break free from one’s true self -- if only for a moment -- is a feeling Nate Kinsella (the sole songwriting force behind Birthmark) knows all too well.

Choose any song on Antibodies, Birthmark’s third full-length, and you'll quickly find lyrics that reveal Kinsella isn't always at ease with being the person that he is.

I get so scared, honey / I can never be somebody else / ... / I get so tired of hearing my own voice

"I really do try to present myself as a positive person in normal everyday life," Kinsella says, "But I also spend a lot of time thinking about death and feeling guilty, remorseful, regretful, and everything in between."

And so, Antibodies became Kinsella's outlet for the adverse thoughts constantly lurking just beneath the surface.

From the contrast of how he views his own ugly faults in relation to his wife's beautiful flaws ("Your Imperfections") to his self-proclaimed inability to keep on living if a loved one were to be violently taken away ("Pacifist Manifesto"), Kinsella earnestly examines his own fears and shortcomings.

And yet, despite a lyrical slant toward acute self-criticism, musically Antibodies unfolds to the ebb and flow of a gentle, unhurried cadence that is often the hallmark of a record comfortable in its own skin.

This trait might not seem so surprising, though, when you consider the organic origins of its sounds.

From vibraphones to violins, cellos to clarinets, each instrument on the album was played either by Kinsella or a session musician. Even the stunning backwards string section on "Shake Hands" was painstakingly composed and performed with an actual string quartet.

Elsewhere, album closer "Big Man" resonates just as deeply from the opposite end of the musical spectrum. Pairing only a sparse bass guitar with Kinsella's reverberating vocals, the song is undeniably captivating in its sublime simplicity.

That such a wide range of tones and emotions are represented so artfully is made even more remarkable when taking into consideration the relative speed with which the album came together.

Having spent three years working on his previous album Shaking Hands, taking only four months to craft Antibodies required Kinsella to amend his past songwriting techniques.

"This time around I worked very quickly and decided to embrace initial ideas without second guessing myself," Kinsella explains. "I really tried to imagine the songs first before I started to record them, instead of building a song from the recording process."

To further streamline the process, Kinsella enlisted the help of producer Jason Cupp. Working with an outside engineer for the first time had the immense impact of enabling Kinsella to focus less on the technical aspects of recording and more on the music itself.

As such, the experience of making Antibodies became a liberating experience for Kinsella -- allowing him to function outside his normal boundaries in exactly the way his lyrics indicate he yearns to.

And in the end, Antibodies finds Kinsella closer to being at peace with the knowledge that, as he has learned, "for better or worse, you can't escape you ever."

I wish I could be anything I have to be / But if I were anything different I wouldn't know the difference


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