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Friday, May 19, 2006


Nisennenmondai "Rokuon"

Instrumental bands so often have audiences stampeding for the bar, but three-piece female band Nisennenmondai's performances manage to be both uncompromising and accessible. And very, very loud.

Partly because of the near-total disinterest of the media, and partly due to the creative freedom offered by Tokyo's pay-to-play live circuit, Japanese underground bands are fiercely DIY in their approach. Nisennenmondai exemplify this attitude, releasing "Rokuon," their first full-length album, on their own Bijin label, providing their own artwork, and self-producing. And it's the latter that strikes you first, with its rejection of even the most basic principles of production values. "Rokuon" sounds cheap and dirty, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it lacks the power of noisy contemporaries like Lightning Bolt, ending up sounding like a retreat from the challenges of making a really great studio album.

Nevertheless, much of what made Nisennenmondai great in the first place -- the exhilarating collision of krautrock and punk noise; their technical ability and their instinctive grasp of multi-layered rhythms -- is still much in evidence.

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