After a year of listening to Tool reactions regularly

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techstepgenr8tion
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03 Feb 2024, 6:22 pm

Somewhere early to middle of last year I started listening to a lot of Tool reaction in amongst the philosophy, complex systems theorists, econ, NDE and esoteric, etc. videos. I think I might have started that just to have fun, as a diversion mainly because I really enjoy my music and even if it's someone I've never met hearing something for the first time it's still really cool to see how other people process it.

Main things I've noticed:

1) A lot of people who come from hip hop and / or rnb backgrounds are looking for bars as well as things that are different in an enjoyable way, they find a lot of good things in Metallica and other bands but they tend to have a special place for Tool and often milk the whole discography, do over a dozen songs, etc. and a lot of them really 'get it'.

2) When I started really sinking into this habit I started realizing that while I'd really enjoyed the Aenima album as a teen I wanted to understand a bit better what they were doing aside from just being a bit ahead of me spiritually back then. I think they very carefully curate their messages so that people pull the highest-value reading of the lyrics and intent of a song that they can, part of them doing double and triple-entente as much as they do (which the hip hop heads absolutely love) is that they're trying to make songs that are whole conversations rather than single-pointed political, moral, or aesthetic statements most of the time (well... H with a P is a bit more straightforward) but songs like The Pot - they're talking about all kinds of things and they want to give their music a lot of return value by having their music and lyrics deliver a shaped but coherent space rather than a single point (really smart song-writing in that sense).

3) I didn't know until recently, maybe this isn't 100% but I've heard it enough, that Maynard doesn't go anywhere near the creative process until Danny, Adam, and Justin have made the music and he then tries to figure out what to pin against it.

4) They're huge King Crimson fans and it was really interesting to re-listen to a lot of their stuff that I already knew and hear bits of Robert Fripp coming out of Adam at times (it stands out for me strongest in tracks like Third Eye, Jambi, and 7empest) but I'm sure there are all kinds of other places to find that. I also found out that the producer they hired for Aenima (David Bottrill) had been someone they chased down to master Aenima, and who later did a couple more for them, mainly because Danny liked the work he'd done with some of King Crimson's member's side projects. There was a really cool story as well he gave in an interview I listened to yesterday where he had no clue why an LA metal band wanted to talk to him, he assumed it was a mistaken identity thing until Danny, Adam, et al. talked to him. Bottrill had a meeting with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page shortly after it was done he'd played it for them and it sounds like having been the producer of Aenima was a big-up for his work.

5) A lot of Danny's exotic drums are actually worked in quite seamlessly with his drum rig, really smart stacking and space management. I'd also add - I'd consider Adam's guitar work as being nearly, perhaps equally, evocative as Dave Navarro's work just that I'd sort of draw something like a David Gilmour / Robert Fripp distinction between them where Navarro's more Gilmour and Jones is more Fripp.

A few other personal notes:

1) I feel like their songs are mostly A and B tier, most of their stand-out and well-known work I'd put in A-tier, I have three tunes that I'd put in S-tier which are the ones which I think sort of go exponential:

a) Pushit - IMHO it's the peak of Aenima, the breakdown in the middle is insane and Adam drops one of the coldest guitar riffs I've heard to date in the back half (sort of a lunatic thing similar to Slash's riff on Estranged).

b) Right In Two - Really cinematic, the topic's clear, it's a meditation on game theory from the prespective of angels watching the behavior of humans, the tabla-ish breakdown Danny does in the middle is insane, and the peak after that seems to encapsulate the adrenal / limbic aspects that have us screwed on the topic of war vs. peace (I really love the taps Adam does that intro part of that - sounds like someone firing a machine gun from a helicopter).

c) Descending - I really didn't like the Fear Inoculum album as much as the others at first but the tracks grew on me. Pneuma I liked a lot more as time went on than when I first heard it, but Descending was maybe the one track on the album that needed no adjustment - I just felt like it was the one really great track on what I pereceived as sort of an unespired album. It's kind of on the same topic as Right In Two (more indifference leading toward extinction rather than resource wars) but super cinematic and I don't think it left much to the imagination how they felt on the topic.

2) I'd add - you could sort of put Third Eye, The Grudge, and maybe The Pot as 'leaners' where they're maybe a bit better than A-tier (I think of 46 and 2 as really strong A-tier, some of these are a bit past it and it's tough to call).



Anyway... throwing that out there for anyone who wanted to talk about Tool, reaction videos, and wanted to tell me what they think (or for some odd reason who might enjoy what I thought on it as well - whether validating or conflicting in interesting ways). Admittedly I generally don't pay as much attention to Undertow as the others, I've listened threw it and there are some good tunes on there but... it's not as much the kind of content that I go to them for. They did do a really nice job of dressing up Opiate with Opiate 2, Prison Sex and 4 Degrees (very similar kind of topic apparently) were some of the more pre-Aenima sounding tracks on Undertow, and who knows - maybe they'll do a rework of Undertow that I'll enjoy more but at lest right now the meat of the discog for me still mostly starts with Aenima.


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cyberdad
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05 Mar 2024, 7:09 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
1) A lot of people who come from hip hop and / or rnb backgrounds are looking for bars as well as things that are different in an enjoyable way, they find a lot of good things in Metallica and other bands but they tend to have a special place for Tool and often milk the whole discography, do over a dozen songs, etc. and a lot of them really 'get it'..


I went through a lot of reaction videos and there seems to be some type of voyeurism watching "ghetto" kids react to Tool or Metal band reactions. The comments are quite condescending and cringeworthy. A lot of tool fans seem to think their genre of music belongs to one demographic type which is typically ignorant.

Tool music is actually quite universal (I would describe as Jungian) so why should it be surprising that it connects with everyone.



techstepgenr8tion
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05 Mar 2024, 8:02 am

cyberdad wrote:
techstepgenr8tion wrote:
1) A lot of people who come from hip hop and / or rnb backgrounds are looking for bars as well as things that are different in an enjoyable way, they find a lot of good things in Metallica and other bands but they tend to have a special place for Tool and often milk the whole discography, do over a dozen songs, etc. and a lot of them really 'get it'..


I went through a lot of reaction videos and there seems to be some type of voyeurism watching "ghetto" kids react to Tool or Metal band reactions. The comments are quite condescending and cringeworthy. A lot of tool fans seem to think their genre of music belongs to one demographic type which is typically ignorant.

I experienced that one differently but admittedly I didn't really bother with the comments. For me it's a combination of being able to see someone hear songs I love for the first time and the other part is seeing firmer evidence that there is an up and down in music, that there are 'super bands' or bands that most people can agree on (Pink Floyd is another) so in that sense it's also a bit of a positive sanity-check and that it's not all 100% subjective as far as composition, quality of the musicians in the band, engineering and mastering, etc..


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07 Mar 2024, 1:37 am

techstepgenr8tion wrote:
For me it's a combination of being able to see someone hear songs I love for the first time and the other part is seeing firmer evidence that there is an up and down in music, that there are 'super bands' or bands that most people can agree on (Pink Floyd is another) so in that sense it's also a bit of a positive sanity-check and that it's not all 100% subjective as far as composition, quality of the musicians in the band, engineering and mastering, etc..


I'm the same but I wonder if it really is their first time? Often the reactors will disclose they have heard the song but never seen the clip or they have the song on their spotify but never watched the clip,



techstepgenr8tion
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07 Mar 2024, 9:20 am

cyberdad wrote:
I'm the same but I wonder if it really is their first time? Often the reactors will disclose they have heard the song but never seen the clip or they have the song on their spotify but never watched the clip,

Yeah, there's probably some of that. I get the impression for the most part that they're coming at it out of convenience, ie. realizing there's a lot of stuff they haven't heard so they reach out to their Patreon subs, have polls, etc. deciding what they want to take a shot at.


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07 Mar 2024, 9:29 am

I remember when I was a teenager (and you're a few years older than me OP, so perhaps you recall)...

Tool's biggest radio hit was the one about "Learn to swim, see you down in Arizona Bay."

In the original version, the singer used the f-word rather amply. In the edited radio version, there were a series of pauses (as they silenced the f-word).

While I'm not normally a fan of censorship, I actually liked the edited version better. The silence amplified the singer's frustration. Like he was so frustrated and flustered, he'd start speaking then have to pause due to his emotions. This wasn't Tool's goal, but it strangely made that song more powerful (to me anyway). You could really feel the angst with the silence where the f-word should have been.



techstepgenr8tion
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07 Mar 2024, 10:11 am

ezbzbfcg2 wrote:
I remember when I was a teenager (and you're a few years older than me OP, so perhaps you recall)...

Tool's biggest radio hit was the one about "Learn to swim, see you down in Arizona Bay."

In the original version, the singer used the f-word rather amply. In the edited radio version, there were a series of pauses (as they silenced the f-word).

While I'm not normally a fan of censorship, I actually liked the edited version better. The silence amplified the singer's frustration. Like he was so frustrated and flustered, he'd start speaking then have to pause due to his emotions. This wasn't Tool's goal, but it strangely made that song more powerful (to me anyway). You could really feel the angst with the silence where the f-word should have been.

Neat observation.

There's a few other things about Aenema that I found interesting:

1) I watched their Live @ Glass House 1996 which was supposedly their first show for the Aenima album (album and song are spelled slightly different) - instead of saying 'fret for your hairpiece' he said something that sounded very similar to 'hairpiece' but it's a VD instead, so I'm thinking they used that as a cover to make it slightly less spicy.

2) There's a metallic 'beep' in the percussion around 2:57 - it seems to happen only once, right there, and I wondered why Danny didn't at least add a faint echo in the same place of the next bar (maybe 70% velocity of the first). It sounds okay but the producer in me keeps wondering 'why just one?', it sounds kind of plopped-down with only one iteration.


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techstepgenr8tion
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16 May 2024, 12:36 pm

One of the other things I'm starting to love is therapist reactions to Schism, they're all like 'OMG - Tool's doing our job for us!'. I already knew years ago (really as a teen) that they weren't just throwing a bunch of words together that sound cool but in case anyone else needed confirmation...



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