Japanese group toe are a primarily instrumental rock quartet from Tokyo consisting of guitarists Mino Takaaki and Yamazaki Hirokazu, drummer Kashikura Takashi, and bassist Yamane Satoshi. Often categorized as post-rock or math rock, their free-flowing, highly melodic songs feature splashy yet tightly controlled drumming and dynamic guitar interplay, as well as occasional electronic elements and additional instruments such as vibraphone and Rhodes piano. Rather than having an expansive, cinematic, crescendo-heavy style similar to bands like Explosions in the Sky, toe have more of an angular, guitar-driven sound reminiscent of bands such as Ghosts and Vodka and Euphone. Restless live performers, toe have toured at home and abroad with bands such as the Album Leaf, Mogwai, and Envy, in addition to notable appearances at festivals such as Japan's Fuji Rock Festival. Having established their jazz-influenced instrumental sound with several EPs and full-lengths such as 2005's The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety, toe incorporated more vocals on later releases such as 2015's Hear You and 2021 live set Doku-En-Kai.
The group formed at the end of 2000 and began performing live in July 2001. Their first release was a split single with American post-rock band Pele, issued on CD by the Japanese label Dis(ign) Muzyq in 2002 (Polyvinyl released a 7" of the recording in America two years later). An EP called Songs, Ideas We Forgot was released by Japanese label Catune in 2003; the same label also issued a remix EP titled Re:Designed that same year. The band made their full-length debut in 2005 with The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety, also released by Catune. Following this album, the group's members established a label called Machu Picchu Industries, and released toe's first DVD (RGBDVD) in 2006. This was followed later in the year by an EP titled New Sentimentality.
After several years of touring and writing new material, toe returned in 2009 with their second full-length, For Long Tomorrow, as well as a split EP with Collections of Colonies of Bees. Following a successful Japanese tour in support of the album, the group released their second live DVD, Cut_DVD, in 2010. An EP titled The Future Is Now appeared in 2012. By this point, toe had gained a significant following in America, and U.S.-based label Topshelf Records released the EP stateside. The label subsequently reissued much of the band's catalog, and released an extremely limited vinyl box set of the recordings in 2013. The group also issued another DVD, 8 Days EU Tour 2012. They released their third full-length album, Hear You, in 2015. The record featured an increased vocal presence compared to previous toe recordings, as well as more of a hip-hop influence.
After a few years without any releases, toe issued That's Another Story, a compilation of non-album tracks and remixes, followed by an EP titled Our Latest Number, both in 2018. Doku-En-Kai, a recording of a 2019 performance at New York City venue Le Poisson Rouge, was released in 2021, in both audio and video editions. ~ Paul Simpson