Strange Boutique (June 2012)

My Japan Times column last month was about the enduring influence of Can in particular and Krautrock in general. One of the points I made, and admittedly it’s a pretty sticky point because with music as diverse as Krautrock was to begin with and as wide-ranging in its influence, there are going to be bajillions of exceptions, was how generally, Japanese underground bands seem to prefer the complex rhythms that characterise a lot of Can’s output rather than the motorik beat most associated with Neu! and Kraftwerk (which to a lot of people in the UK is pretty much the definition of Krautrock). Naturally, given that Britain has traditionally been the biggest audience for German 70s rock and experimental music, this is a gross oversimplification, but I think it holds true as a general trend.

In this blog, however, it’s the exceptions I want to look at, and of course there is motorik Japanese indie. On Knew Noise Records’ forthcoming Ripple compilation (which I should have a review of being published soon) Sekaitekina Band swap their usual jittery disco-punk sound for a motorik beat, and as I mention in the column, Nisennenmondai favour driving beats rather than complex, overlapping rhythms, be it disco, tribal pounding or motorik.

Nisennenmondai: Destination Tokyo

Through my own Call And Response label, I’ve released a couple of tracks that follow the motorik pattern as well. Our first release, the 1-2-3-Go! compilation, featured a track called Neu! by a band called Usagi Spiral A (see if you can guess what that sounded like) and Klaus Dinger fanatics Mir did an excellent track called Yononaka, Minna Hihyoka on their mini-album This Tiny World that paid obvious tribute to Neu! and La Dusseldorf.

My own band, Trinitron, often play around with patterns nicked from Krautrock, albeit sometimes mixed in with some other things as on this cover of 1970s idol group the Candies’ Heart no Ace ga Detekonai.

Similarly, Yamanoi Yuzuru often play about with rhythms if not exactly motorik, certainly influenced by the style.

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