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Friday, May 29, 2009
By IAN MARTIN
With a reputation for furious, hypnotic live performances, and a sound that evades all attempts to pin it down with the usual genre cliches, Tokyo-based duo Kirihito have gradually carved themselves a position as legends in the underground-music scene despite only releasing albums sporadically over the past 15 years.
The duo's last album, "Suicidal Noise Cafe," was released as far back as 2000, but from the moment "Question" begins, the opening tracks "Sai-bo" and "Flashman" stampede out of the speakers as if those nine years were nothing, with Shunsuke Hayakawa pounding out a rockabilly rhythm on the toms and Ken Takehisa following up with his signature looping, funk-flecked guitar. The groove they find is simple and effective, but Kirihito really show their experimental colors on tracks such as "Desco," with its Satanic vocals and the floating jazz trumpet of Mitsukaze Hamada of Cool Wise Men, and "No Fun!! No Funk!!," where Hayakawa and Takehisa's dry, ironic vocals play back and forth in a style that recalls classic Japanese new-wave bands such as P-Model and The Plastics.
With bands like Kirihito, it's usually advisable to approach their albums with caution, since the passage from a mesmerizing live performance to a flat disc often results in something important being lost. That caveat aside, however, "Question" is as good a substitute for the live article as you could ask for, and its epic closing track "Question x U" in particular does an excellent job of capturing both the band's punk intensity and their off-the-wall psychedelic insanity.