I’ve written about this duo before both here and in The Japan Times, and I’ll also ask you to excuse the self-promotion as I note that this new track is a timely release, coming just a week before Hysteric Picnic appear at the Clear And Refreshing/Call And Response new year party at Kichijoji GOK Sound on January 22nd (yes, I did warn after the Tacobonds profile that there would be more of this on its way, and I’m nowhere near finished yet), and take a moment to listen to this rather fine piece of new wave-influenced sonic violence.
Hysteric Picnic: Abekobe
As on most of Friends’ similarly noisy 2011 album Let’s Get Together Again, the scuzzy guitars and distant, isolated echo-effected production make the vocals next to indecipherable. However, the insistent, pounding, programmed industrial/krautrock drums and the twofold assault on your ears of the twin guitars, with one making an insistent buz, buzz, buzz in your eardrum and the other a shrieking, repetitive Joy Division-influenced cry of despair, creates an atmosphere from which the vocals seem to be yowling at you from inside the depths of some infernal machine as it clanks, thunders and rattles away in a crumbling, blighted industrial dystopia.
All of this is, of course, a rather affected way of saying that Abekobe is crappily recorded. If time has taught me one thing, it’s that I have a broadly higher tolerence for crappy recording than some people so take that for what you will, but the fuzzy recording genuinely does feel right here. A layer of slick, studio polish can often make this kind of bleak, 80s-influenced new wave sound like no more than a fashion statement — more like U2 with Shoreditch hair and eyeliner than the dirty business of real, harsh, 80s psychocandy — but Hysteric Picnic bring a fearsome aggression to it. They sound like a band battling against the limitations of inferior technology, like they had no choice but to make it sound like this, and in that sense it hits the same emotional spot as their 80s forbears.