TOUNDRA - HEX
YOUR FIRST POST ROCK HIT OF 2022
Despite having a slew of full-length releases already, Spanish instrumentalists Toundra have never quite made it to the Post-Rock big league and have a profile that is perhaps somewhat understated. If, however, you like to close your eyes and get taken on an instrumental rock gamut of emotion there will be much to please you here.
Hex is purportedly inspired – at least in part – by an examination of psychological strains and intense personal introspection of the negative depths of the human mind. It is, therefore, perhaps a manifestation of the current era of war, human displacement and pandemic. The first three songs are a linked trilogy, El Odio parts I, II, and III. Translating as The Hatred, the songs form over 20 minutes of undulating, emotional heights and troughs of agitated rock that wends through various chapters of pace and hue. There is an overwhelming sense of psychological drama baked into Toundra’s sound, but what soon becomes clear is that their emotional gravity is built upon mood and tone rather than sheer monstrous world eating volume. The tracks form introspective journeys with melodious hooks and arresting plaintive textures morphing into jittered, frantic indie riffs and dreamier quiet progressions and back again. It is an intensely ruminative – and tumultuous – meditation rather than an aural attack or a violent externalisation.
Stylistically, there are parallels with Long Distance Calling or Explosions in the Sky with engulfing, sweeping leads. La Larga Marcha and Watt are sophisticated pieces of post-rock transcendence with overtones of soaring open spaces of If These Trees Could Talk. As in much of the classy post-rock albums, the sparkle and thrills can often be found in the passages of quietude and subtlety and much of Toundra’s latent violence is hidden in hushed moments. These appear throughout each track but closer FIN drifts out in indefinite, amorphousness rather than a cataclysmic finale. Suspenseful yet hopeful it bookends the album with a sense of cautious reclamation following what has been an intense journey. Toundra also have a unique component in occasional but recognizable Mediterranean accent of jangling guitar that is spliced throughout the album. It is not a predominant theme but present and enough to give the band a stylistic idiosyncrasy and identity.
Hex, then, is a tussle between brooding psychological violence and self-reconciliation; a dichotomy of unease and cautious peace that flows naturally between serene relief and loud rushes of blood to the head. The twists in each song eschew the traditional hush-rise-hush pattern of old school post-rock/metal in favour of winding, unfolding vistas that do not feel predictable but develop naturally and are unforced. Time will tell whether Hex parachutes Toundra to the top tier, but it certainly won’t do them any harm.
Hex is relased via Inside Out Music.