I had this rambling thing that was a mess and ended up cutting out quite a lot which left this shorter than I’d have liked, but I didn’t have much to say, so it works.
I feel I did a lot of skimming; as such, this doesn’t say much, but I think it gets some of what I wanted to get across across.
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A good few years into their existence and toe still sound great, especially in a live setting. Featuring many songs from their catalogue, DOKU-EN-KAI captures a decent live performance from the band. Whilst only covering the audio, it bears mentioning that the performance is also available in video format.
toe kick off with “Etude of Solitude”. Aside from a few errors (assuming they were and not intentional) it goes off without a hitch; toe jam on it whilst moving it forward, growing it a little whilst having it remain familiar. It highlights toe’s ability to effectively expand upon a song; something reinforced throughout the album.
From there toe cover a decent range of their discography in a natural-feeling order. “Etude of Solitude” through to “孤独の発明” makes sense and is pleasing; “Where Are My Ears” feels almost like a brief rest between sections, and “The Latest Number” through to “F_A_R” continues with a smooth flow.
The ordering allows for some of the tracks to feel related to each other (“F_A_R” and “Goodbye” immediately come to mind). Along with the various touches toe add to the songs, it probably says a lot about their consistency as a group. These are people with a firm sense of control over their sound; they know when to stretch and when to hold back, and they know how to keep growing whilst sounding like themselves. They also know how to put on a good live show.
toe play their songs with a what feels like a good deal of passion and drive. Considering the clarity of their sound (as well as the clarity of the recording), a bad performance would come through. Whilst everything might not be as tight as it could be, the performance here sounds really good. These are people who want to put on a good show; whilst the presence isn’t here, the honesty is and so the emotional and melodic content comes through with ease.
There really isn’t much else I can say about DOKU-EN-KAI. It is worth checking out, as is the rest of toe’s work really. This is a live recording that sounds great and flows well. The band play well and their songs carry forward with ease. What comes forward is a performance that feels genuine, and a satisfying selection of songs that offer something a little different from their studio recorded versions.