Given what an awful place the world is, there’s far too much niceness in the pop culture we consume, and the Japanese indie scene in particular is overwhelmed with stuff that’s sickeningly pleasant. With that in mind, I want to kick off this rundown of 2014’s top twenty in Japanese music with this something truly horrible.
Halbach call themselves a “cute noise hard junk love band” and I agree with two or three of those (“band” is questionable). Their music is ramshackle and chaotic, they have no consistent vision of what kind of group they are, this album’s production is the lowest of lo-fi, and it’s all linked together by a relentless sonic and psychic brutality and an anarchic sense of fun. Flux Capacitor is ten minutes of psychedelic disco-kraut noise, while Text is just a few minutes of arrhythmical whispers, groans, grunts and screams, and live tracks Bass and Thara close the album out with ten minutes of gasping and shrieking over minimal, DAF-style sequencer loops. In between, Halbach delight in crashing warp-speed hardcore into lacerated Stooges riffs, zapping half-formed disco-punk beats with rayguns and engaging in all manner of debauched teutonic skronk. Halbach is a glorious, thrilling mess of an album and manages to be both absolutely horrible-sounding and the most beautifully alive thing the come out all year.Halbach: full live set at Koenji Studio DOM