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To-Bo or not To-Bo...

To-Bo, Malaria

Dark Meadow Recordings, 2011, darkmeadowrecordings.com


Reviewed by Kent Manthie

To-Bo, a German experimental noise band has been bopping around various underground labels and now, the latest, Malaria has just appeared on Dark Meadow Recordings.

Their work is…well, it’s an “acquired taste”, meaning that it will probably never be heard on any commercial outlet. This is, like, true industrial – total noise; no vocals, no harmony, melody or any “normal” song structure.

Malaria contains four tracks that bleed into one another: “Malaria”, “Death By Insects”, “Epedemie” and “Endstatum Tot”.
The opening, title track is only 1:07, I suppose you could say it’s an overture, of sorts. The next three songs are 12 minutes, four minutes and 22 ½ minutes, respectively.

More than just “indie”, To-Bo come from way underground, from the German school of minimalistic noise. It would fit in nicely at some independent record store (Rasputin in Berkeley, for one or Streetlight Records in San Francisco, to name just two legendary record stores) or at a Goth party, a vampire get-together or a human sacrifice in some border town in AZ or TX or Dresden.

Self-described as part of the “Homemade Music Movement”, To-Bo’s stuff is about as homemade as a fertilizer bomb and almost as destructive – at least to the psyche and ears, if you’re delicate.

Now, just because they’re German, don’t get any stereotypical ideas about them. The noise-rock is just that – pure noise, but of course, since my 10 year old cousin could put noise together and burn a CD there is obviously more to it than the sound. It seems to be part of a nihilistic, devil-may-care (cuz who else does?) cacophonous rant. The intensity of the thrashing and reverberating buzzing and machine-screaming seems, to me, anyway, to evoke a cynical mind-set about the world of 2011: a global economy that is so tied together that one false move and the whole house of cards comes crashing down; this is the sound of that hanging-by-a-thread economy imploding.

Let’s face it: someone had to step up and do it and since there has been so much written and pontificated about the ills of living on borrowed time and borrowed money, To-Bo doesn’t need to add any more polemics or punditry on the myriad octopus effects, so the next step is to just pummel the masses with Malaria, a complex mass of sounds.

– KM

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