Mechaniphone are a band I encountered when I was in Nagasaki back in May. They were one of those bands where the moment they started playing a ripple of electricity went around everyone who was seeing them for the first time. Little glances between me and my friends from Tokyo, those knowing looks that presage a torrent of effusive, excited praise waiting to be unleashed as soon as the final song finishes: “Who the fuck was that? They were fucking cool!”
This EP inevitably doesn’t quite have the raw, wired intensity of their live set, but there’s more than enough in the way of lo-fi thrills in here to give you a good sense of what they have to offer. In the combination of complex, stop-start post-hardcore rhythms and rough-edged garage rock, there’s something nostalgic about it for those of us who privately and not so privately mourn the passing of Afrirampo, the self-imposed hiatus of Tacobonds and the grindingly slow pace of new material from Hyacca.
Killkilli, with its pounding waves of scuzzy hooks, squeaks and shrieks, is the art-punk disco contender of the EP, while the closing instrumental Theme alternates between off-kilter melody and squalls of ferocious noise. The opening one-two of Maware Maware Maware and Pool shows a more inclusively and multi-layered side to the band’s song construction, with the former combining a hypnotic, cyclical vocal melody with some righteously heavy riffage and moments of sublime harmony. The latter, meanwhile, alternates between octave-leaping vocals and instrumental duels, with overlapping sonic layers and rhythms adding a layer of complexity to the simple loops that define the song’s surface.
This juxtaposition of superficial accessibility, playful musical contrarianism and a rather elegant touch of multilayered complixity marks Mechaniphone as a band well worth seeking out, and we can only hope that the small but creative and diverse underground scene around them in Nagasaki can support them long enough for them to get the breakout success that they deserve.