Spiderman. Batman. “Lethal Weapon.” “24.” “Rush Hour.” What do all of these have in common? They were caught up (some successfully, some not) in the reboot craze that’s been plaguing Hollywood as of late. In an effort not without some ups and downs, Toma brings this idea to the radio waves.
A recent band from Austin, Texas, they have resurrected and melded sounds from the early 1970s with those of the early 1980s. Predominant is the use of electronic instruments. TOMA uses the medium as a painter would use a palette of colored paints by creating an art that feels experimental, but probably has us right where they want us.
This mastery has the echoes of American rock from the early ’70s, when the form was beginning to stand on its own two feet, as musicians plugged in their tools to test their limits versus just expressing emotional doubts in a jungle war. This was a time when the possibilities of music were limited only by the instruments themselves. Skip ahead 10 years to the full-blown electro-pop culture flowing from London studios, when the form had not only taken root, but was bearing fruit in the oh-so-coveted US airwaves; it had become its own genre. By marrying the two styles, Toma takes the listeners on a friendly time-trip of both the beginning and the apex of a sound barely heard beyond the boundaries of retro-lunch hours and on VH1 Classic.
Forty years later, the effect is a fun roll through music history, but the guys aren’t really kneading the form; what we heard then is what they are giving us now. Instead of making a modern day reimaging of a once popular sound, Toma created a modern day regurgitation of a once popular sound. It’s good music, but for the time being, these guys have chosen to be a footnote in the genre rather than a leader. With performances at SXSW, it is safe to say there is a definite audience for the band, perhaps young people who aren’t familiar with the dusty origins of the music. So, even if Toma isn’t forging new paths, at least they are using their electro talents to spread a style to a whole new generation.