Sunday, October 25, 2009


Full Disclosure: this band features George Almosthole who is a friend. Don’t let that sway you.
Whenever I see a band described as “post-rock” I scratch my head a bit. Any genre broad enough to cover both Yes and GG Allin would seem to contain enough multitudes that it wouldn’t need a postscript. Either it’s rock, or it’s not, and if it’s not rock, it could bear some relation.
But Tona aren’t post rock. No, they understand that they are fully in the rock. Never mind that they might employ an eastern modality here, a country lick there, and a grab bag of influences, this still is self-consciously Rock music. There’s no fashionable poses of being in with this marketing genre or that. Certainly, a nod to the so-called “Stoner Rock”, but isn’t that stuff basic rock music, anyway? No, this is asynchronous rock- it’s outside of time. You’ll hear a snippet of Motorhead, a flash of Black Flag, a moment of latter-day Clutch, a moment of Kyuss, a few seconds of the Melvins, and some Thin White Rope. The vocals, while sung, and not growled are full throated and masculine- think Germanic military chants, like Laibach, but not as an affected gesture; that’s just George’s voice. Boris and Filip have a pretty broad range to choose from, sonically- from delicate neo-jazz phrases to full-bore overdriven skronk. Yes, lots of distortion, but more of a late 70’s tube-driven creaminess than a late ‘80’s scooped out shine, or a 90’s thud- even less the contemporary twinkle and crunch- Boris and Filip would blow minds in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, because they play with a much more broad musical understanding, but their tone would not be out of place on a latter-day Thin Lizzy record (and what’s a higher standard than that?)Vladimir and Roger- the rhythm machine- quite frankly they’re locked in so tight that it invites comparison to something artificial, but the tone used keeps it completely organic- lots of splash cymbals and walking bass lines, so it can help but have a kinda woodsy edge. Still, musically, this is rock- don’t expect Belle and Sebastian!
Yes, they are Serbian, and yes, I think that plays into this. They’re not political, but there is the kind of urgency, and determination you just don’t hear in more western countries. Take it this way- when some Anarchopunk band from Orange County screams about war, pain, and death, there is an understood comfort underneath it- they can always go off to college and become lawyers, and when some Satanic Death Grind metal band from Norway screeches about wanting to burn churches, you know full well they have one of the best social nets in the world underneath them. A band from Serbia, from Uzbekistan, from Burma? Even if they come from the upper class, there’s something underlining whatever the band does- if this falls through, there aren’t necessarily the resources to go for plan “B”. Shouldn’t we all have a little of that?