January 14, 2022. When I write this I do not know if whoever reads this will do so before or after said date. The fact is that on this date Toundra are editing, have edited or will edit their eight studio album “HEX”. An album where the band have found themselves at the crossroads of changing their way of working and in which they had to seek inspiration a bit further away (and then realize than, in reality, it was closer than ever) than what they used to look for before.
In March 2020, Toundra practically disappeared. The outbreak of this pandemic found them loading their van to embark on their new European tour. Fifteen days after the release of their, so far, last album, streets and squares became empty. Toundra had to return home. This time, divided between their native Madrid and the Cantabrian coast, where two of their members settled right before hearing about a new virus. The distance and the difficult situation did not make them relax and stand idly by. Something Toundra has always shown since its formation in 2007 is their hyperactivity and the necessity of keeping moving on, looking forward and not looking at their shoelaces.
David and Esteban bought the needed material to create small and improper studios at their homes and they started to send each other ideas for new songs in a chaotic way, especially at the beginning. Without knowing very well where they were going towards nor what they might find. In the summer of 2020 the band started to gather again in Madrid to review the material that they had been exchanging. In addition to the composition sessions, they were accompanied by constant talks about where to go with this eight studio album (if we count “Para quienes aún viven”, the album they edited with that side project called Exquirla).
In July 2021, they traveled again to Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Girona, to meet again with their trusted producer, Santi García. What they had in their hands was an ambitious and risky album. Finally, Toundra had decided to leave all the expectations aside, those expectations that a path already walked can create. They had an idea: to record the album clearly divided in two sides. Side A is composed of only a song, twenty-two minutes long, whose inspiration has been the transit through the life of a human being and how hatred has led him to suffer in a world that suffers. A composition that is an attempt by the band to prove to themselves that music is a sufficiently autonomous language to send such a message. At one point in late 2020, Toundra decided that Side A would be the musical reflection of this concept and the song would be titled El Odio, “Hatred”. A song written between December 2020 and March 2021, finishing its composition during a quarantine that the entire group had to endure, each one at home.
The side B of “HEX” are four new pieces. A side that lists songs whose roots were the need of the band to be in constant movement. Like a cyclist that cannot stop pedaling because otherwise he will fall off the bike.
“Ruinas” (“Ruins”) is on a list of prototypical songs that Toundra creates at least once in each album. A song based totally on the energy and the melody, something that has been the hallmark for these four musicians from the beginning of their career. “La Larga Marcha” (“The Long March”), however, is born from the influence of electronic music with its own clear interpretation of what a loop played on a guitar is. “Watt” is the first song the four musicians put together in the room to start the composition of this album. The use of a saxophone is a clear inspiration in King Crimson and that particular way they have to go from Western scales to scales of music from other parts of the world. The album ends with “Fin” (“The End”), an intended name to conclude an era in Toundra, the era of this album. A song made to be the ending point of this work.
All of it can be found in “HEX”, a clear allusion to number six, following with the numerical references in the titles of the albums with a more pure Toundra sound. An album by a band in constant movement, that perhaps may have finally realized that they do not need to look for their own identity. They have ended up learning that they were creating it step by step throughout the years. «Slow, but moving forward.»
El Odio (“ Hatred”), by Esteban Girón.
As of this writing, I am thirty four years old. Since I became an adult until relatively recently, I have lived in anger. The fact I was in anger at the world helped me to move forward in many areas of life. It became a necessity, to be angry at the world. That state of mind implies many things: the never-ending frustration at thinking that everything could have always been done better, for instance.
I believed that being angry at the world was the only way to try to improve my surroundings, to improve the life of those I love. All of this can take you very easily to really dark places. Life is too short to be angry.
During the recording of this album, Macón approached me and showed me a video in which some unfortunate people climbed up to a balcony to steal a rainbow flag and then tore it apart. People below cheered and supported them. “This is 2021”, said the good old Maca with wide eyes. Finishing the recording of our umpteenth album, an event (the murder of a young man in A Coruña simply because of his sexual condition) brought us back to the topic that we had wanted to reflect in an ambitious song we had composed trying to show how, since its birth, the human being is struck by uncountable impulses that lead him to hate instead of love. Hate is not in the nature of any animal, not even in the nature of a human being. Life in this world of screens, numbers and false justifications of mathematics, theories even more perverse than social Darwinism, denature the human being and lead him to hate whoever is next to him. I have never seen an animal hate and I have grown up among them.
We live a life in which we work more hours than we will ever be paid for, where the schedules are so blurred that we see normal that a shop is open on Sundays, that there are people serving us on a tray to eat at any time. We have taken it as normal to be able to consume anything at the click of a button. We have lost control of our private lives.
Children do not learn to play instruments because life nowadays is not made to reap the fruit of anything that takes more than one click to get, to learn, to grow, to mature… The success must be instantaneous because life already is.
Medications against anxiety and other drugs are the order of the day to evade us, to blow our minds and stop thinking when we get home, to stop thinking about the place where we paradoxically invest more effort and time: work. We get high in our spare time to turn off that anxiety-ridden mind that believes that it always can and always needs more.
We hate our neighbor, that Muslim who appears on TV, the old-fashioned granny that prays to Jesus, that fucking hippie and his father, a yuppie. We hate that typical politician that makes us hate those who are different to the majority. We hate as a response to the fear we have in discovering new ways to love, to eat, to consume, to play, to work, to live. Hate has been instrumentalized to preserve a society in which you are what you can afford. We hate those who think we are intolerant.
The resources of our planet are almost depleted. We have been hearing that we must take care of the planet since the 70s and we do not. We have polluted much more in the 80s than since the Second World War to the birth of Kurt Cobain. We eat animals that we have never seen closer than four meets away, we raise many others in food and death factories to continue serving them under clown smiles. We smile and… it seems to us that it is tasty.
All this dehumanized reality has been spread over all the continents thanks to the fact that it favors the only engine that moves the world. The market, the word of the only true God: money. A reality that, as cruel as it is, cannot stand on its own. And this is where “El Odio” comes into play. While the human being’s vision is clouded with the curtain of hatred, he is unable to question his miserable existence. For this reason, in recent decades, a legitimation of xenophobic, racist, sexist, cruel and criminal messages has been carried out. This legitimation is the only thing that leads us to violence in daily life, in the streets. To have a child murdered for the fact that he likes men. This is nothing new since, as Robert Wiene warned in 1920, these types of messages were being legitimized in Europe a hundred years ago. In Europe and around the world. In every society, under any religion or belief, in any type of system, the legitimation of hatred has been instrumentalized so that whoever holds the power persists in it. We never thought that Wiene could influence us so much.
We legitimize hatred by not going out to expel from the squares those who call “AIDS-y people” to the inhabitants of neighborhoods with a high percentage of LGTBI population. We legitimize it by not dying of laughter when a madman says that he is going to build a wall that unites the Pacific and the Atlantic to improve political borders. We legitimize it when we do not ask ourselves how the coronavirus crisis was managed in those residences where we let die those who built this welfare state with their daily work, that welfare that we are allowing to be stolen from us. We legitimize hatred when we do not censor speeches that do not admit equality between human beings. We legitimize hatred when we allow there to exist layers of society that want us to live like in “Los Santos Inocentes” by Miguel Delibes … so they will always be «El Señorito Iván”, “Master Ivan”. Because they want us to be back in the High Middle Ages. When we do not jump in the face of speeches that are currently in all the media and that directly violate human rights, we legitimize hatred.
We live a violent life, where the human being is atomized. We look at the phone searching for likes in social media instead of lifting our eyes and enjoy the landscape that passes before our eyes. They have turned us into numbers. They turned human beings into numbers. The most social animal by nature. Work, consume, die. We live in a situation of total fragility where the breeding ground to hate whoever or whatever is different is very easy to generate.
There is something really obviously better than hatred. Since the recording of “Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari” I have discovered that, now, I can progress much more by loving than by hating. Slowly, but I keep going forward. I move forward more being happy than angry at the world like I used to do for many years. Like I told you, nowadays I am 34 years old. Many of my best friends are having children and, when I see and I love those kids, I always think “I hope you will be happy in a better world than the one I think you will have”. If we allow to grow the fury of hatred, racism, intolerance, if we tolerate it, that what we love the most, our children, will be the ones suffering a life of slavery, intolerance and fear. Because like that poster during the Spanish Civil War said in the face of intolerance: “if we tolerate this, our children will be next”.