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Friday, April 24, 2009

LISTENING POST

CD REVIEW

Mahiruno "Generic Music" (Perfect Music)


What separates most modern Japanese progressive rock bands from their British 1970s counterparts is that they hone their sound through live performances rather than through months of expensive recording-studio time. As a result, when they do eventually make an album, the recording represents more or less what you get live.

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One of the leading lights of Tokyo's latest generation of experimental-rock artists, Mahiruno have carved a niche for themselves live over the past few years with their frantic, eccentric, postpunk-influenced brand of progressive rock.

However, it wasn't until last winter's "Circus in Frontier" minialbum that they made their recorded debut, and the full-length "Generic Music" comes hot on its predecessor's heels. It provides a good test of whether Mahiruno are up to the task of creating the constant flow of high-quality new songs necessary to be a success, or whether, like so many promising Tokyo indie bands, they will be hamstrung by an inability to follow up a handful of popular early songs. On the basis of "Generic Music," things look promising.

Essentially Mahiruno's music has three main modes, and each is on display here. First are the manic shifts in time signature and guitar wig-outs, exemplified by the title track; then there are the more subdued, melodic moments, as on "Kikouchi I"; and finally there are the catchy but slightly creepy, carnivalesque moments, such as "Torikago no Karasu, Yuki no Ori," where lead vocalist Shigeru Akakura's vocals are backed up by the falsetto yowls and growling baritone of guitarist Yasunori Ootake. More often, the music contrives to combine two or all of these motifs, which makes "Generic Music" a frequently disorientating but nonetheless compelling listen.

For details of the album's release parties on April 29 in Osaka and June 6 in Tokyo, visit www.myspace.com/mahiruno



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