Toundra: IV

Latest foxy offering from the Spanish instrumentalists.

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Toundra’s fourth record may be all instrumental, but nevertheless it’s still conceptual.

Unlike the interwoven tunes here, the story behind IV is pretty simple: two foxes need to escape their forest habitat because of a fire. And the allegory underpinning it all? The human race is a danger to the environment. Like the raging inferno sweeping the mythical woodland, this record at its most vivacious crackles and roars – but there is ample chill time too. Opener Strelka hints at what’s to come as it flows from lulling post-rock soundscapes to distortion-pedal-to-the-metal plunges. Qarqom swells before spewing out some Mastodon-esque sludge. But there’s more here than just the archetypal quiet/loud dichotomy. A horn section peeps out of the burrows on Viesca; Lluvia dips into ambient noise. At around 50 minutes, the Madrid band’s album is quite a lot to digest in one sitting, but part of the fun is using the music to soundtrack a fox-themed flick in your noggin. Did our furry friends escape the blaze without harm? The positive uplift in closer Oro Rojo suggests so, and it’s a fitting finale to a cunning record that holds hands with both bleakness and optimism at the same time.

Chris Cope

A writer for Prog magazine since 2014, armed with a particular taste for the darker side of rock. The dayjob is local news, so writing about the music on the side keeps things exciting - especially when Chris is based in the wild norths of Scotland. Previous bylines include national newspapers and magazines.