Tag Archives: ode to the author

Album of the Week: Toska – Ode to the Author

I should be going to bed and I have some important emails to read but this album is so good that I want to write some quick words about it.

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This is the debut EP by the band Toska, which is all of the members of the band Dorje minus Rob Chapman, and is more metally and more proggy. And Ode to the Author is pretty amazing. It’s an instrumental EP from an instrumental band, and this EP is what got me into the more instrumental side of music. It made me realize that, for me, the main barrier to enjoying some music (a lot of metal especially) is the vocals. I’m pretty picky. I don’t like whiny vocals, or intense screaming or growling, or just certain types of singing. I’m not sure what my exact criteria are, but some bands are just ruined for me because I can’t get into their vocalist.

But Toska is not a band with that problem. In fact, I think their style of music really benefits from not having a vocalist, because it allows for a much greater variety in instrumentation. There aren’t really any repeating song-wide riffs, just a sort of theme that ties the whole song together. The first track, Chalk Teeth, (which used to be my second favorite but might be rising to the top) has a really awesome beginning riff that is a really good combination of chuggy low-string stuff and higher pitched dissonance, and just as you begin to take it in, it isn’t played until the very end of the song. It’s these kind of things that make instrumental music interesting for me. (I’m not a classical music guy by any means, but I occasionally try to get into stuff like Rachmaninoff and others, and from my limited experience there’s a lot of this kind of unexpectedness.) There isn’t the structure of intro-verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus, so it’s a much more interesting listening experience. Personally, it’s not the kind of music I can easily listen to while trying to work, for instance (although I can’t easily listen to any music and work). Without the vocals, it’s much easier to take in all the intricacies of how the different instruments sound and how they interact with each other. Toska is a three-piece band, so there aren’t a thousand guitar parts or extra instruments, but it doesn’t sound minimal at all. I imagine they would sound pretty similar live to how they sound on the album. (That’s something I really admire.)

This EP also has the prog thing where there are short bridge tracks between songs sometimes. I like this, as an artistic sort of thing, but it’s easy to overdo. There are two of these (Phoneme and Anthropocene), which is probably my upper limit for song to instrumental bridge track ratio. Any more and it would feel like overkill.

My favorite track (now tied with Chalk Teeth, though…) is Infantile. This song really feels like a journey. It starts out with a heavy metal part, goes to a more ambient cleaner part, and then to a more powerchordy part, and just keeps going…. Most of the songs go like this. There’s a heavy part, and then a clean ambient part with a lot of reverb and delay. I’m not a fan of the ambient parts myself, but I know these songs would be less interesting if they were constantly heavy chugging riffs the whole time. Chalk Teeth has a part near the 1:45 mark where it gradually transitions from an ambient part to a heavy part, and it’s awesome. Knowing when to play intensely and when to play softly is something that this band can do very well, and it’s very important, I think.

The other actual songs I haven’t mentioned are Chasm and Illumo, which are both good, but I don’t like them as much as Chalk Teeth and Infantile for some reason. It’s probably the riffs. Chalk Teeth has three awesome riffs, Infantile has a bunch, but the other two don’t really have any that I like that much. I still listen to them, though, and I do think they’re good tracks, but they don’t captivate me as much as Chalk Teeth and Ilumo, which are both amazing.

So, that’s all for now. I’ll try and write about an album every now and then (maybe not as often as the title suggests), but next album is probably going to be something quite different from this one. Or maybe not. Who knows?