Travelling around northeastern Japan this autumn, I made a point when talking to musicians and music scene people of paying attention to what their reference points for Tokyo music were. One band whose name kept recurring was S-Explode (pronounced “explode”) – actually a Saitama band, although if my travels taught me anything, it’s that that distinction is meaningless to pretty much anyone outside Saitama itself.
S-Explode’s current status is either stopped or on hiatus, but one of their successor bands, In The Sun, have been making waves with their explosive brand of instrumental avant-garde rock. Consciously nodding to This Heat, there are also obvious comparisons with Nisennenmondai in the energetic, propulsive, insistent and repetitive rhythms and guitar loops, albeit with a far fuller sound and more prominent role for synths than Nisennenmondai currently employ.
In The Sun: Hot Spots (live)
And it’s in that fuller sound and willingness to let the music burst out of its tightly coiled container and slash jagged wounds through the air that In The Sun distinguish themselves as more than simple imitators. Opening track Hot Spots makes the group’s intentions clear from the start with its dirty, growling sequencer loop and frenetic drumming, and the EP/mini-album continues to push upwards and outwards from there, layering in guitar texture and feedback even as the drumming maintains its intensity through numerous rhythmical shifts.
Along with another relatively newcomer, Transkam, as well as Yolz in the Sky’s continuing evolution in a dancier direction, the borders between avant-garde rock and dance music seem to be dissolving, driven perhaps by the increasing ubiquity of loop pedals and musicians’ growing command of their use.
With such a limited number of artists, it’s too soon to declare a trend, but if such a thing were to emerge, it culd do a lot worst than have bands like In The Sun in its first rank.