What’s in a name? As names go, Tone is not the most original ever. Yes, it’s better than Oasis. But worse than Crispy Ambulance (from whom, members of this band are drawn from, incidentally). It certainly alludes to something in within the wider spectrum of ‘Rock’ but more like plodding heavy metal than the quiet/loud dichotomies of post-rock. Tone formed in Washington D.C. in 1991 and though they have released their three previous albums on Ian McKaye’s Dischord label they are relatively removed from their city’s hardcore punk lineage.
Solidarity is a pure, undiluted experience. The musical template never strays from the basic guitar/bass/drums format, albeit with 5 of the first and two of the last. There are no vocals, keys, theremin or kazoos. The music itself sticks solely to the genre of instrumental (post)rock; not for them the experiments with Drum and Bass of 65 Days of Static or field recordings/sampling (Godspeed You! Black Emperor).
…waves of sonic cathartism
All the songs are based around repetitious melody and therin lies the joy of Solidarity; as waves of sonic cathartism build then fall around you. There are many moments of melancholy throughout but also uplifting passages, particularly in “Evolution”’s extended coda and the epic closer “Texas”. The latter is perhaps the standout track, bursting into life on nine minutes as walls of guitar crash the party, drink all the spirits and leave two minutes later taking the whole song with them.
Despite these great moments Solidarity is not without its flaws, though. With such a narrow musical focus it veers very closely at times to virtual cover versions of their peers — “Towers” mimics Mogwai’s “CODY” and “Sketch” is akin to passages on Godspeed’s f# a# oo. Regardless, Tone have created a fine piece of work, particularly when listened to loudly, and as a whole. But as it lacks the extremes of quiet beauty or brain-melting noise terror found elsewhere, it will remain in the relative mainstream of its genre.