Simplicity is the new complexity. That sort of realization is the essence of my time spent with Tomaga’s brand new LP, Futura Grotesk, which has just been released through the French Hands in the Dark Records. If I am to be honest, from my very first glimpses of Futura Grotesk‘s glitchy and deformed artwork, I was already sure how this album would sound. I was expecting electronic drum loops, simple and repetitive, almost ritual at certain moments. I was expecting distorted and raw additional percussion, with a deformed, almost world music touch. And it really is something like that.
Futura Grotesk is like a jam session. It’s a discovery of sound, something between witnessing a performance and putting puzzle pieces together. I like it because sometimes the pieces seem like they probably won’t fit, but Tomaga manages to adjust them and convert them into music in its purest form. Sounds that had to appear not to fit in some artsy, insincere concept, but just because it had to be there–performed, captured, spread, and experienced.
Most of the time, Tomaga start off from a basic percussive pattern. Then they gradually layer more sounds over it or just enhance its sonic sparsity with micro-details or effects. Another very key feature of this album (and the project itself) is that you can hear that the band is actually a duo. Even if Futura Grotesk is a studio album, allowing the artists to do tens of hundreds of tracks, instrumental overlapping, etc., Tomaga seem to have decided to limit themselves and thus accentuate on each and every detail around which their pieces are built upon. This encapsulates every element that has been incorporated into their music.
In this age of unlimited possibilities–especially in terms of composition and technology–I find myself most often praising those records which strive to achieve more through limitation rather than through over-saturating their sound with, well, anything and everything.
The album as a whole moves from louder and more dynamic pieces to becoming more ambient-oriented. It’s a kind of implosive sound which does not entirely leave you the chance to get bored nor over-focused. You’re never really sure what shape will follow. Sound-wise, Futura Grotesk really feels like a live jam and I guess that’s pretty much how most of it was recorded. There’s only one thing that I hope to see this band doing in the future and that’s experimenting with voices. I think this can make their pieces more memorable and tighten their impact in general. Of course, this only applies if they actually want that.
Lastly, I’m not sure why this thought crossed my mind, but that final piece, “Days Like They Were Before”, is almost as brilliant as if Ras Michael met Earth for like three minutes.
01) Alphabet of Night
02) Long Term Green
04) Futura Grotesk
05) Taste the Indifference
06) Mountain Opener
07) Days Like They Were Before