Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Best Thing I Did Last Week: Listen to Tonstartssbandht

The first step is learning to pronounce their name. When you see a name like Tonstartssbandht, it makes you think. Is this Swedish death metal? Some sort of German electronica? No, they are just two brothers from Florida who make exceptional rock music. And luckily, they have posted a pronunciation on their Bandcamp page. (It's TAHN-starts-bandit, by the way).

It should really be mentioned here and now that Bandcamp is a wonderful place to find music on the Internet. It is a place for artists to post and sell digital music directly to an audience. Because there is little attention and publication given to such releases, one can often find hidden gems of amazing quality for little to no cost.

The next piece of information about Tonstartssbandht you will find after spending a few seconds on their page is that they are prolific musicians. I only learned about them from their most recent release, but sifting through their older music reveals sixteen other distinct releases dating back to 2008. Imagine my delight in learning that there are another hundred songs to go through.

At any rate, their latest release, Sorcerer, came to my attention a few weeks ago, and it has been playing fairly consistently since I first heard it. There are only three songs on the album, but at 34 minutes, there is a lot to unpack.

The music itself is rather minimalist. Without doing any research on the band, the music feels like there are several potential possibilities. Either all of the instrumentals, vocals, and so on are done by one person and then intricately laid together, or each piece of the music is done by a group that is perfectly in sync. In reality, the sound is created by just the two brothers, which makes the sound all the more impressive, to my mind.

Sorcerer is the kind of album where any song (of the three) has the chance to be your favorite, and that choice could change at each listen. The music is diverse enough that a single genre is not enough to describe accurately the album as a whole. Instead, each song works as a 10 minute movement, sometimes acoustic, sometimes psychedelic, sometimes classic, sometimes modern. It is an album that demands to be listened to several times over, making new discoveries along the way.

For this reason, it is not easy to recommend the album in a conventional sense, as in “If you like this, try that.” You can hear roots from so many different eras of music. Their sound can be all over the place, while still being firmly situated in established independent rock music. If that appeals to you, Tonstartssbandht’s Sorcerer is totally worth checking out. Surely, you will find something great in this brief, yet impactful album.