Along with WBSBFK’s Open Your Eyes, this album by fellow Nagoya band Sekaitekina Band – their follow-up after a long hiatus to their self-titled 2012 debut – represents the first fresh fruits to emerge from 2016’s Provoke postpunk compilation. Like WBSBFK’s album, New is defined by a kind of restrained, low-key minimalism, but instead of spiky, intricate, Wire-esque puzzle-punk, Sekaitekina Band take a more melodic approach that draws as much from the atmosphere of ’90s indie rock acts like Yo La Tengo as is does from the early ’80s.
Despite the more tuneful and understated approach, Sekaitekina Band remain consistent with their minimalist krautpunk past as well, structuring their melodies into mantric loops, as on the the opening Love? where the phase pedal does as much talking as the sparse, curiously flat vocals, and the title track, where the vocals are reduced to vague humming in the background. The band’s more tightly-wired postpunk tendencies step to the fore occasionally, with Teorema introducing a touch of urgency to the rhythm and some expertly deployed cutting guitars. Evil, meanwhile, resembles nothing so much as Osaka’s masters of disco-punk minimalism Yolz In The Sky, albeit with Sekaitekina Band’s own particular brand of disaffected humming replacing Yolz In The Skies’ hyperactive, monosyllabic yelps.
In this combination of indie rock melodicism and a postpunk-influenced approach to structure, Sekaitekina Band may be taking cues from Tokyo’s Extruders, but despite their years away, they retain a clear identity of their own. While New does raise questions about whether the band can retain the propulsive energy of their live performances with this more subdued material, as an album in itself it is as fine a piece of stripped-down indie rock as Japan produced in 2017.