Drawings from the Outer Realm
& Peculiar Video Game Music Reviews
The insanely far-out and intensely super-charged cosmic whirlwind of Japanese rock band Boredoms, wildly surpasses that of many other avant-noise related bands from the Japanese music scene.
Indeed, blistering across the sky on a floating temple of cosmic power are other madcap Japanese bands Ruins, Koenjihyakkei, Acid Mothers Temple, High Rise, Zeni Geva, Melt-Banana, Afrirampo etc. but Boredoms seemingly take the crown for being extremely exciting!
My brains are pummelled and electrified by their terrifying wall of sound, rising ever higher and higher before cascading down onto my frail spine releasing all manner of animalistic advantages and jungle post-apocalyptic rhythms. This tribe of Japanese pranksters unveil voodoo of the most sublime colour. Their easel is awash with such fractured and riotous sound. It drips down to form new civilisations and environments. The Boredoms are our saviours.
A vague past dithers, yet prevalent members persist. Yamantaka Eye screams and shouts a call of the untamed whilst throwing in noise and samples, mixing and matching at the terminals. Multi-instrumentalist Yoshimi P-We pounds the drums, a potpourri of percussion, keyboards and trumpet. With them is second drummer Yojiro Tatekawa and guitarist Shinji Masuko. They charge henceforth with deferential decorum.
Life of drum seems to be a motto in this new world, rhythms are carved out intuitively, the four of them finding a way to connect all corners of a psychedelic domain. They continuously experiment with the ultra-possibilities of sound. For example, the Boredoms recorded the sound of their drumming underwater for the Seadrum/House of Sun album. They also used newly developed contact microphones to record the sounds made by the human body while dancing.
Then came the Boadrum concert initiated by Yamantaka Eye in 2007. The concert saw him bringing together 77 drummers to perform at the Brooklyn Bridge Park in new York City. The number 77 was rumoured to be significant when Eye climbed The Konark Sun Temple in India and counted 77 steps.
This theory continued with the 88 concert in Los Angeles the following year. The third in the series, 99 took place at Terminal 5 in New York City on 9th September 2009 and featured 9 drummers from influential noise bands such as Hella, Oneida, Pit er Pat and Volcano The Bear among others.
But where the future leads and what the light will shed remains to be seen.
Today let’s sing about jelly ice creams! Barbie dolls! Barnacles! or elephant pao paos! Plough the lo-fi sounds of early rock n’ roll, scratching a space-age atmosphere around enchanted spells of surf rock, swimming alongside eccentric Japanese pop.
Thirty years on and still going strong, the trio have gone through many transitions and a few line-up changes - lead singer and guitarist Naoko Yamano remaining at the core of the bands direction and presentation. Shonen Knife were a prominent force in the early ‘90s grunge scene thanks to Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, whom candidly described ‘When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.’ That and the purchase of their first cassette album from K Records founder Calvin Johnson, the frontman then asked the ladies to embark on a UK tour which invariably increased their exposure and profile in the western world. A compilation album followed and featured Shonen Knife cover songs by other aficionados such as Babes In Toyland, Lunachicks, Sonic Youth, Red Kross and even the pre-Combustible Edison band Christmas! All this before Shonen Knife even had a western release under their papaya leaves.
Shonen Knife are undeniably one of the greatest punk-rock cum pop trios to drop by our shores, like an atom bomb filled with positive energy, jelly bean attacks, bearing up bison’s, muddy bubbles hell or banana leafs…
The slow moving spectral world and idyllic utopia of Japanese composer Susumu Yokota border one another with a simplistic beauty and virtue unequalled by anyone else. The ambient landscapes he creates drift us in and out of the open space we unconditionally see. Yet, lower the ogling of reality and evaporate all intrusions and see far beyond the norm.
Susumu Yokota is a prolific figurehead in the world of experimental, ambient and avant-garde music. A well-known house DJ, graphic designer and photographer, he also owns the record label Skintone established in 1998.
It’s the sheer simplicity in the music, draping everything in such regal beauty and a gracious Japanese-like gesture of respect and refined calmness which runs fluidly through all his records. He encompasses a resolutely lo-fi effect, opting for a myriad of obscure samples as well as contemporary electronic sounds, borrowed from a far-off realm that would surely need a password to gain entry.
Yokota ultimately gained a cult following in the UK when independent record label The Leaf Label licensed some of his works for the European market. Image 1983-1998, Magic Thread and Sakura were all re-released whilst the amazing UK debuts Grinning Cat and The Boy And The Tree albums unveiled a progression in his music taking us to sublime places further than we could comprehend. Just listen to closing track Blood and Snow from The Boy And The Tree to feel terrified, dazed and anxious all at the same time.
There is still a whole wealth of music by Susumu Yokota that I’ve yet to discover, and I’m looking forward to the next strange trip it’ll take me on once I seek it out.
Start as you mean to go on. My previous poster represented some strange music but this is even weirder. Sinister sounds abound, the recordings crafted by performance artist, vocalist, butoh dancer and contemporary choreographer Yôko Higashi are dark and gruesome, teasing and melancholic, spiteful and childlike. What a cauldron of choice we have here to stir upon.
Her music and field recordings symbolise the in-between state of consciousness. A dreamlike atmosphere in which to awaken would be catastrophic. We must fear the outer states of our most inner thoughts. Instruments vary from the sho to the dissonant whump of declining bass and sine-wave oscillations, terminal manipulation. This beautiful muddle of sounds is all engrossing and somewhere I’d prefer to reside forever.
Flying high above the eucalyptus, the tremors of drumming reverberate through haze. In turn, tribal chants weave through moss, soil and the veins of leaves. Thumping into my flesh and idle limbs, a call of the wild enters my eye and makes me shimmer with rapt. OOIOO morphs from the stream and unveils a fantastical trip on the terminals.
Acid Mothers Temple
Deep within the space of the mind, electric volts slice and dash their way through tunnels, cells and muscles. The cosmic whirlwind of Acid Mothers Temple transcends all inordinate and omnipotent plains. This barrage of sound spirals without restraint, warping our images of violence, the erotic and the disturbing, yet all inside the safe confines of our own imagination.