Review: Tomu DJ Music for Girls

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Tomu DJ is a growing presence in the East Bay electronic music community. She leads the Girl House event series, commonly appears at various popular venues and underground functions, and most recently has embarked on a US tour. Her energetic DJ sets are varied and dynamic journeys through intricate sample-heavy footwork, hip-hop, and techno-infused left field club beats. Following a series of dancefloor-oriented releases such as the self-released EPs tomu & kyra and NO IDEA, Music for Girls is an experimental ambient album that further reveals Tomu’s expansive musical range, contrasting deconstructed club music elements with gentle melodies and cinematic soundscapes.

The result is memorable album that showcases her narrational musical skill with minimal elements. Complex rhythms and melodies are interspersed with deliberately discreet effects sprinkled throughout each track. Adventurous DJs may find selections for contemplative moments - perhaps in the album’s most dancefloor-friendly track “Girls TV (Channel 7),'' which restlessly swirls through an abstract and syncopated approach to footwork. Most, however, will likely find the album best for ambient listening. The album as a whole is an engaging and continuous story told through a developing tension between floating synths and sleek drum patterns.

“Missed U Babe” opens on a bittersweet note with a pared down, airy synth traveling through a rather classically inclined melody. The arrangement leaves room for carefully placed silent pauses. “Girls Radio” continues on this melancholy path with a building violin-like synth that grows in intensity, culminating into wobbling frequency shifts that bubble with energy. “Scorpio Rising” follows with a gentle guitar sequence jarringly contrasted with an impactful climax of drum impacts and orchestral flair. The album proceeds this forceful moment with cinematic interludes in the self-described “Rash (Noisy Synth)” and the ominous “Stay Close”.

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The next few tracks toggle between explorations of carefully selected instruments juxtaposed with impactful club-inspired drum breaks. “Harp Track” begins with a harp sequence building in intensity that shifts suddenly to a colder drum break with jazzlike swing. “Real Girls Know the Rotation” opens and closes with a bare footwork hi-hat pattern containing a cinematic sequence of instrumental ambience and a grander percussive moment. The more straightforward “Luv U Always” returns to the meandering instrumental melancholy of the album’s first few tracks.

Music for Girls closes on its most interesting and ambitious note with “Girls TV (Channel 7)”, a concentrated showcase of tropes from all previous tracks. It is an interposition between melodic instruments that chase each other with tension and deconstructed, footwork-adjacent bass that playfully follow their path. A strong kick drum follows a freeform pattern that echoes the track’s meandering mid-tones, creating a jarring club beat possibly fit for drifting and introspective dance floors. Its discrete components effectively sum up the careful minimalism of Music for Girls, straddling the line between sharp club fare, somber cinematics, and soft melody.

The work as a whole is one of contrasts: softness and harshness, gentle yet jarring. The album and track titles associate these contrasts with reflections on gender, identity, and relationships, suggesting an emotional journey that has reached an important milestone but is still not fully resolved. A testament to Tomu’s depth as an artist, Music for Girls is a compelling album that sets the stage for her growth as a standout figure in the East Bay electronic scene.

Gabe Haro is a DJ, producer, and organizer based in Oakland. One part of Loose Conditions.
Independent radio based in San Francisco, CA