The fifth birthday of Totorro’s “Home Alone”


Totorro's Band Photo

Members of the band, Totorro.

Peter Wilson, Staff Reporter

Totorro’s “Home Alone” turns five years old this year, and if these five years have demonstrated anything, it’s that these eight tracks grew riper with age. This album is an explosion of melodies and harmonies which other bands wouldn’t be able to handle. Few modern bands would dare play their instruments as cleanly and without any effects as Totorro plays theirs’ on this album. Each song rolls into the next, making the album more of an experience than a track list. Though the album has no lyrics, it serves as the perfect energizer for any late night studying or early morning classes.

The album begins with the title track. “Home Alone” begins with quickly strummed guitar. This fast opening melody evolves into a motif, as each instrument begins playing with the same voracity and in the same style. Even the bassist follows the pattern, and the song ends almost as quickly as it began.

A similar, fast melody begins almost immediately where the first track leaves off, and the same speed is carried through the next song. The musicians’ true talents are exhibited here though, as the guitarists and bassist begin playing together, and the drummer’s talent shines through. Following the light on the drummer, the guitarists begin their work, and each begins to play intricate riffs. These first two songs cannot be played apart, as each compliments the other so well.

Between “Chevalier Bulltoe” and “Tonton Alain Michel,” the speakers are filled once again by the crisp, unaltered sounds of the guitars and bass. The song feels almost like a three act play, in which the first act depicts the hero’s rise to stardom, only to fall and have to regain his ground in the second. The song culminates in the third act, in which the hero finally defeats the antagonist in an epic battle, saving the day.

The fourth song, “Festivalbini,” stands alone as did “Tonton Alain Michel.” They are similar in that they both have several distinct parts. It opens with a solemn guitar, then speeds up with drum and bass. Totorro takes the initial melody and bends it every way possible. This song has two clear culminations, but the first, which includes great group vocals, plays perfectly into the buildup of the second. “Festivalbini” exemplifies the album because it demonstrates each style that the band plays in and blends them all masterfully.

“Motte-Rock,” the fifth song, provides a much needed break from the continuous sound experience of the first four songs. The song opens with a simple, repeated riff. The guitar builds with distant, twinkly background strumming, and the umbrella of strumming eventually boils over into a group-wide performance of the same riff. The strength that is accomplished by the whole band playing the same, repeated melody is not found elsewhere in the album. Then, just like that, it all falls, and the guitarists and drummer trade off on the off-beats, and the next song begins.

The final three songs, “Osao San”, “Eric Colson”, and “Tigers & Gorillas” each show the buildup that Totorro is infamous for. These three songs each draw the listener in, with no lyrics, and make them reconsider what they’ve just heard and how it makes them an anomaly in the contemporary music world.

“Home Alone,” is art. Each song is carefully considered and each transition performed masterfully. The album evokes so much emotion. For its fifth anniversary, give it a chance and see what emotions the band evokes in you.