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Post-rock quintet Tone’s new single, “Weapon of Moonlight,” off its forthcoming album Antares, embodies everything that’s right about purely instrumental music. One of the best qualities of this kind of music is its ability to take listeners on a journey without relying on words. Composition and technique take center stage, and the lack of vocals makes room for you to get lost in the notes. “Weapon of Moonlight” might be nearly twelve minutes long, but hardly feels like the massive composition it is.
“It starts here, and goes there, and instead of going back, it just keeps going forward and really moves through a lot of musicality and emotions and techniques,” says drummer Gregg Hudson. “Between J. [Robbins] tracking and Kurt Ballou [of Converge] mixing it, it’s one of those lose yourself songs that I loved growing up. I searched long and hard for songs that helped me tune out the rest of the world.”
While some of the immersive quality comes from the fact that the track doesn’t have any vocals, the fact that Tone has been honing its compositional skills for the past 25 years doesn’t hurt either. According to Hudson, that amount of time working together did a lot to inspire confidence in its compositions, which in turn inspired the band to become more adventurous while still letting its music tell a story.
“Without vocals you want someone to make a connection to the song in their own way,” he says. “So as we’ve been playing for this 25 years, I think the songs tell better stories, and you can interpret each story however you will.”
Guitarist Norm Veenstra expands on this point, noting that “if you have a singer, that almost automatically becomes this focal point, and I didn’t want to create music that had that focal point.”
“Weapon of Moonlight” also represents a reintroduction of the band to contemporary audiences. “We’ve been doing this a long time and this is the first record where we’re just a five piece,” Veenstra says. He’s aware that, after 25 years some listeners might have preconceived notions of what Tone is or that they might not be as complex and heavy as they were with eight members.
“We want to show people right out of the gate that it’s just as heavy, if not more so, and just as intricate if not more so,” he says. “So this track is making that statement as firmly and definitively as possible.”
Antares drops June 24 via Dischord Records and TminusONEmusic