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Friday, May 29, 2009
You might expect a band named after the Sanskrit term for "absolute reality" to be a bit, well, pretentious. But if their moniker is evocative of patchouli, long beards and even longer guitar solos, Brahman's music remains firmly grounded.
The Tokyo-based quartet specialize in a no-nonsense blend of punk that draws on the best bits of NOFX, Lagwagon and compatriots Hi-Standard, throwing in the odd dash of emo and hard rock for good measure. They're one of the few Japanese guitar acts to have gained much traction in European and American markets without piggybacking on anime soundtracks or high-profile hipster endorsements to get there. After a series of international tours, they gained more widespread recognition in 2005 when Revelation Records, a Californian label more commonly associated with hardcore, gave a belated U.S. release to the band's 2001 album "A Forlorn Hope," which sold more than 500,000 copies in Japan.
Now comfortably into their second decade, much of Brahman's continued appeal is staked on their intense live shows, during which singer Toshi-Low steadfastly refuses to engage in any banter with the crowd. These have been well documented over the course of three live DVDs (most recently last year's "The Third Antinomy"), and these are as good a place to start as any of the group's studio albums. In 2005, Brahman's members took a break from head-banging and joined Scottish-American vocalist and violinist Martin and percussionist Kakukei to form Overground Acoustic Underground, whose laid-back, Celtic-influenced jams have proved a hit on the summer festival circuit. The influence of that band seems to have rubbed off on Brahman's latest album, "Eternal Recurrence," which is released on Toy's Factory on June 10. This sees them follow in the footsteps of TM Revolution and Bon Jovi as they perform a selection of cover versions of their own songs. In this case, the tracks are all taken from the group's first two mini-albums, "Grope Our Way" (1996) and "Wait and Wait" (1997), and their 1998 full-length debut, "A Man of the World." They've covered enough creative ground since the originals for these reinterpretations to be interesting enough, but the prospect of "mature" versions of favorites such as "See Off" might be too much for some fans to take.
Brahman play throughout Japan between June 10 and July 1. For more information, visit www.tc-tc.com