Sometimes I run into bands I don’t want to check out just because they’re so highly recommended they can’t possibly live up to the hype. Case in point: Toner Low from The Netherlands. Everything I’d ever heard about them rounded out to, “Oh my god this is the best shit ever you need to hear it right now why are you still standing here go listen to it it’s as good as Sleep,” with emphasis on that last part. As good as Sleep? Come on, man. Your name better be John Garcia if you’re gonna talk that kind of crap.
But, because it was bound to happen eventually, I recently snagged a copy of Toner Low‘s aptly-named second full-length, II, from a certain interwebby shop I probably don’t even need to name at this point (hint: it was All that is Heavy). Even after it came, I sat and stared at it for a long while before putting it on. “Oh yeah, think you’re so good?” Holding the hype against the band when the band had literally nothing to do with the hype isn’t exactly fair, but neither is life, so screw it. Alright, Toner Low. Bring it on.
And they did. For a solid hour of Sunn and Orange-amped stonerly psych drone doom with, yes, a Sleep influence, but stretched into four Goastsnake-thick numbers-only tracks all over 13 minutes long. Parts reminded me of Ufomammut‘s take on heavy and sprawling psychedelia, but II was less outwardly experimental and more bent on riff worship and dooming out. I’ll say this for it: it was fucking s l o w — and yes, that is absolutely meant as a compliment. So many bands out there think they’re playing slow just because they’re not Slayer-speed thrash. No dice. Toner Low is the slow’s slow. They’re slow like continental shifts. Slower than those days at school where the clock moves backwards. Really, really slow.
And they’re slow too.
As it happened at the time I was listening, I needed a good dose of slow, so it was perfect. I don’t know if it’s as good as Sleep, since that’s like saying Sleep is as good as Sabbath, but I’ve no doubt II is in line for many return trips. Now just to track down a copy of their 2005 self-titled and I’ll be good to go for Toner Low. Obscure European distros here I come.
Tags: Freebird Records, The Netherlands, Toner Low