Top 20 Releases of 2014: No.18 – Free City Noise – Leaving

Leaving

CD, self-released, 2014

Free City Noise first came to my attention through their connection to the Nagoya indie scene, documented on Knew Noise Records’ wonderful Ripple compilation, to which they contributed the superb, Sonic Youth-esque Permanent Touches. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to note then that this distorted, doom-laden shriekfest has a lot of New York’s finest about it. The influence of fucked-up sounding American music from the ’80s on the Japanese underground scene is deeply rooted though, and the almost prog or jazz rhythms of VS (a Mission of Burma reference?) have a broad hinterland in Japanese bands like Panicsmile, Tacobonds, or closer to home in Nagoya other Ripple bands like Dororonica. The relentless march of minor chords and the way the band let the songs breathe, resisting the temptation to tighten up and hone the technique into finely tuned mathy perfection goes against the grain of much of the way the Japanese alternative and underground scene has been heading basically ever since about 2001 when Shutoku Mukai gave up on punk music.Golden River (live at Akihabara Club Goodman)

Leaving is as rough and raw as alt-rock gets, and is steeped in the sounds of the ’80s and ’90s. Despite the loose, seemingly freeform atmosphere, the songs are also intelligently and imaginatively structured, with noise and melody both playing a role, often at the same time, and the wash of distortion and feedback over songs like VS and Nun Falls providing a cover under which radical changes in the rhythm can take place without becoming jarring. The result is a tense, tortured, emotionally wrought mini-album, very much of another era, and all the more necessary for that very fact.Implicit Mirror (live at Akihabara Club Goodman)

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