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Friday, Sept. 29, 2006
LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS
By IAN MARTIN
One of the problems facing Japanese indie-rock bands is that their genre's traditional audience tends to be biased toward Western bands. Groups like Supercar and Number Girl have successfully crossed over to reach a wider audience by making music that essentially copies Western rock but with a Japanese twist.
What sets Nhhmbase apart is how they take the sound of Tokyo's jazz- and progressive rock-influenced underground scene, with its constantly evolving rhythms and outlandish time signatures, and combine it with a self-assured, euphoric pop sensibility. There are nods to Western music in Hideki Watanabe's loose, funk-influenced bass, which drifts in and out of Fumiyasu Kawamura's drums with such lazy, bouncy confidence. But it's Mamoru's voice that really grabs your attention. He has a soul singer's vocal range, but the melodies follow none of the standard patterns you expect from rock. The result is an album that will sound both fresh and accessible to anyone who typically skips over local bands.