Tag Archives: Doit Science

Top 30 Releases of 2020: No. 15-11

15. Various Artists – MITOHOS
This compilation, put together by Shigeru Akakura of the band Loolowningen & The Far East Idiots, is subtitled “A Guide to Japanese Galapagaized Music, Volume 1” in reference to the theory that Japan’s relative introversion, culturally and technologically, has led it to develop ecosystems independent from global trends. Arguably, the way the mainstream is so cut off and inaccessible to independent musicians means that indie music here is its own “Galapagoized” ecosystem, and this album seeks to navigate the listener through some of the rhythmically deranged and melodically unpredictable undercurrents of contemporary Japanese underground music. The Loolowningen boys kick off the compilation and, as you might expect, they make for a pretty reliable indicator of the sort of barebones, Beefheart-via-math rock experimentation at the album’s heart. It really is a very comprehensive portrait of this rarely articulated thread of underground music in Japan. In that sense, Mitohos is as much a work of music journalism as it is a piece of art, linkling together artists throughout Japan (from Nessie in Hokkaido to Doit Science in Kumamoto) and presenting them in a way that lets their similarities resonate just as their diversity shines. Essential.


14. Boris – No
Boris are such a well established part of the music landscape of Japan that it’s hard to offer any really new thoughts about them. They always cover an impressive range of territory, from shoegaze-inflected dreamscapes and drone to metal and stoner-influenced heavy sonic menhirs, with a tremendous amount of confidence and ease, and they do so here in a way that is both powerful and concise.

More about this release here.


13. Mikado Koko – The Japanese Rimbaud
An album of early Showa-era poetry readings interwoven with electronic music that draws on the atmosphere of 1990s Warp Records, this album occupies, as James Hadfield points out astutely in his own review, a very similar eerie psychocosmos to Chris Morris’ Blue Jam radio broadcasts. Mikado Koko delivers the poems of Chuya Nakahara (the “Japanese Rimbaud” of the title) in the retro-modern melodramatic flair of Showa-era theatre amid a sparkle and rattle of beats, blips and glitches that are both unpredictable and captivating. She finished the year with another release in the Nekomata EP, so check that out as well.


12. Kiyoaki Iwamoto – Sougi+
The core of this release is a resurrected 1980s EP by an enigmatic 1980s punk-era artist, recorded with minimal drum machine and guitar arrangements and encompassing five quietly intense tunes that teeter infectiously on the border between post-punk and folk. Most striking is the cover of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart that closes out the Iwamoto solo portion of the album, the original’s glistening pop sheen and raw power wrung back to something harsh, fragile and constantly on the brink of falling apart. The first of the additions is a reworking of Iwamoto’s Love Will Tear Us Apart by Escalator Records-ish Osaka duo Chisako & Junta that provides an interesting expansion on the track that thankfully doesn’t overwhelm Iwamoto’s recording with the duo’s accustomed smooth coffee table vibes. It closes, meanwhile, with an untitled live recording of Iwamoto’s old duo Birei, the synths wavering through the analogue tape like a multiply overdubbed Italian horror VHS, and quite lovely it is.


11. neccc – Yabatopia
Neccc are more an occurrence than a band. The members and guest musicians who populate this EP are an interesting non-alignment pact of post-punk and noise-rock figures, familiar from artists like The Neso, Yokoscum, Manchurian Candidate, Jailbird Y, P-iple and more, and they make for a playful and entertainingly unhinged mental breakdown of a record. Echoes of Pere Ubu, Tuxedomoon, Der Plan and other barebones iconoclasts of the 80s, with a mischievous willingness to push repetition into irritation when it suits them (the 13-minute track that fills side B of the tape but which may not be available on the online edition is an especially wild ride), Yabatopia is an irrepressibly good humoured but utterly uncompromising dadaist art accident pretending to be a punk band.

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Top 20 Releases of 2012: No.7 – Doit Science – Information

 

Information

CD, &Records, 2012

While Fukuoka is undoubtedly the cultural capital of the southwestern island of Kyushu, the music scene in (relatively) nearby Kumamoto also produces more than its fair share of great music, and Doit Science are most talked about band in the city right now.

Quite what makes them so exciting is hard to pin down. Lo-fi alternative music with weird time signatures is an ever present feature of local scenes up and down the country, and yet Doit Science still stand out. There are perhaps some similarities with labelmates Nhhmbase in the combination of off-kilter arrangements and wide-eyed, impassioned vocals. Certainly one point that stands out about their music is the way that where most bands of this type feature vocals that yowl and scrape, Doit Science sing out clear and strong, like Nhhmbase often launching into a disarming falsetto, and making use of multiple vocalists to create a sort of Beefheartian barbershop vibe, awash with staccato interjections and sometimes deliberately landing off-key.

And despite the delight the band seem to take in throwing musical obstacles in the way of the melodies, the beauty of some of these songs still shines through. Toshi Keikaku (Delicate Mix ver.) in particular is probably the most melancholy and affecting song ever written about urban planning, but even the more uncompromisingly disruptive tracks like Tasogare (Sweet Death ver.) and Information is Just a Needle (Plan B) reveal a keen ear for unconventional hooks that nevertheless worm their way into your brain.

Listening to Information sometimes feels like the CD is skipping, but there’s also a clear grounding in accessible, blues-based chord progressions at the heart of a lot of the music. As well as Captain Beefheart, there’s also something of Syd Barrett in the combination of sweetness and sheer oddness. It may sound like rock music turned inside out, cut into pieces and reassembled by a hyperactive child, but it still is rock music, and it does a marvellous job of sounding great without compromising either its accessibility or its avant-garde principles.

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