I like Togoland because they’re pushing some barriers that usually make people uncomfortable and really helps address the conversation of what defines music. What makes something musical?
Music, by definition, is organized sound. Take that how you want it.
In this review, I’ll do a few short reviews of Togoland’s Demos (there are four of them) and then end with a short review of the recent release Harsh Noise. I tried to figure out a more interesting way to do this review, but it was taking too long. All the albums are available for streaming on Bandcamp. I posted a link at the bottom.
Demos is an in your face barrage of noise. The mix of frequencies making love being recorded on a cell phone and laptop. Not for the faint of heart, or those tripping on LSD (if anyone wants to try the latter, please let us know how that goes…). Five tracks of destruction, with Bomb Sounds being an appropriate introduction. Sounds like heavy unnatural winds in while riding the subway. Togoland is from New Jersey, so maybe a quick visit to New York City provided some sound sources
This one opens up with a more drone approach, evolving into a more defined form of destruction. Bird Seed features distorted drums in a hypnotic rhythmic loop that is complimentary of the drones and evil tones which make the harmonic structure of the album’s shortest track, at a little over 6 minutes. The almost 14 minute drone, Sustained String Tension Line, was made from the sound of the melting phone in Fail-Safe. This song also challenges the definition of music.
Demos #3 opens with the return of unfiltered destruction. Slint is perhaps the more matured track, provided the cinematic drum made by a slowing down a recording of a bongo. When listening to Drive Thru, try to imagine a chair being dragged around in a classroom. Because that’s how the song was made…
Demos #4 is strictly noise. Though most of the songs may be difficult to listen to straight through, the reward of noise and drone music is bringing the listener to new mental states. The state I experienced in Music Is Over, was a state that made me hear melodies that might not have been heard otherwise. And screams…Which hopefully weren’t real when I listened at 3am here in New York…
The thing about noise music that it can sometimes tend to sound the same. That’s the curse of it. But it is rewarding to listen, as well as craft, noise music that can lend itself to new experiences. Harsh Noise is exactly what you’d expect. It’s harsh.
Harsh Noise is perhaps the most challenging of all of Togoland’s releases. It’s demonic and, not sure if intentional, provides a concept that can be felt in nightmares. It is manipulative and explores the deepest fears of aural perception, which can be worse than visual nightmares. You can hear and feel the darkness in Chain and Fear of Rain.
My favorite thing about experimental music is its manipulation of sound and the ability to make ordinary sounds in to incredible atmospheres. Since Togoland clearly has a feel for darkness and destruction, I would recommend them to explore binaural audio and make a literal aural nightmare. It could be interesting and perhaps even groundbreaking.
Essential Track: Slint (from Demos #3)