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The Japanese band Té (often written Te') produced a powerful, muscular style of instrumental post-rock infused with hardcore punk elements, more akin to Mogwai than Tortoise. Full of crunchy, overdriven riffs, knotty, complex rhythms and time signatures, and lacking the long buildups and lulls of many post-rock acts, their relatively short songs immediately throw the listener into a mass of rapidly shifting dynamics, interspersed with gentler, soothing passages. Té drew attention to themselves with the twin gimmicks of using ludicrously long, intellectual titles to name all of their songs and albums and by making all of their CD covers identical, with the exception of the color. Unconstrained by any language barrier, they built a dedicated fan base abroad as well as at home, and their first three albums were also released outside of Japan. The meaning of the band's name has never been explained, but the word "té" means "tea" in several Romance languages, and the Japanese word "te" means "hand."
Té formed in Tokyo in January 2004 and started gigging around the city to rapturous critical acclaim, their intense live performances quickly earning them rabid devotees who snapped up every copy of their demo CD. They signed to the small indie label Zankyo and released their debut single in September of that year. While post-rock was a popular genre in Japan, the single was an unprecedented success for a band of their genre, and led to Tower Records in Tokyo taking the unusual step of offering to help promote the band. This undoubtedly led to an increase in their visibility, and over the next few years, they produced a steady stream of albums and singles which continued to sell well.
In 2006, the band undertook a lengthy promotional tour of the United States, and their debut album, Naraba, Imi Kara Kaiho Sareta Hibiki Wa "Oto" no Sekai no Shinen wo Kataru ("Thus, The Echoes Free of Interpretation Speak the Abyss of a 'Sonic' World") was released on CD in the U.S. through the label Status Quo Audio, remastered with two bonus tracks, and its title was translated to the decidedly more unwieldy If That Is What Is Being Thought, Liberated Sound Talks the Depth of "Musical" World. In 2010, the German label Denovali, which had released music by fellow Japanese post-rock act Mouse on the Keys, issued Té's first three albums as a lavishly packaged triple-vinyl set; that same year, the band's popularity culminated in their signing at home to the heavyweight major-label Tokuma Japan Communications for the release of their fourth album. ~ John D. Buchanan
- Tokyo, Japan
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