Tag Archives: Noiseconcrete

Top 30 Releases of 2020: No. 20-16

20. Coet Cocoeh – Anthology
Coet Cocoeh (the Coet usually seems to be silent) is the name under which Masami Takashima of avant-pop trio Miu Mau released her solo work prior to 2016’s Fake Night, and while she put out a string of luxuriously smooth singles under her own name over the course of 2020, this collection of her earlier lo-fi work was a particularly striking release. Most of the releases these tracks are drawn from are only available on difficult-to-find CDs or CD-Rs, so this collection, while by no means complete, is a gorgeous collection of sweetly transparent hypnagogic pop.



19. Various Artists – We Need Some DISCIPLINE Here.
This compilation blurs and screams through several genres, but is unified by its curators’ dedication to manic, elegantly scruffy darkness, all of which adds up to a mood that’s harsh, chaotic, sometimes experimental, sometimes brutally on the nose. Taking its name from a Throbbing Gristle reference, it channels metal, grindcore, noise, drone, EBM, no wave and scuzzed-out electronic influences into the raw (although at the same time assiduously style-conscious) disaffected hedonism of an abandoned factory rave in a 1980s B-movie dystopia.


More about this release here.


18. NOISECONCRETE x 3CHI5 – Chiisana Moment
This Nagoya/Aichi duo comprising noise/hardcore sonic terrorist Noiseconcrete and witchy vocalist 3chi5 (also of the excellent Ghilom) established themselves on their first two albums with an atmospheric sound that mixed industrial beats with the spectral vibes of trip-hop. 2020 seems to have seen the sound branch off in different directions, firstly with a ferocious COVID-themed Noiseconcrete solo album, followed by a very interesting Bandcamp release of some of the duo’s more experimental side. This album, released in December in collaboration with the new OOV label, takes the band’s beat-led sonic sorcery down a route that sees their earlier echoes of the Bristol sound flower into a sort of sparse drum’n’bass combined the shimmering synth tones reminiscent of European 1980s minimal wave (hints of Bene Gesserit on the track Bokura Kurage perhaps). A 15-minute live extract closes the album out, but rather than simply appearing as a bonus to flesh out the album length, also serves to link the album back to the duo’s earlier material and flesh out the spaces between the skipping beats, minimal wave synths and sequencers, and lingering industrial throb.


17. Riki Hidaka + Tatsuhisa Yamamoto – decalcomania
Until now rarely the name above the title in the Tokyo experimental music scene, Tatsuhisa Yamamoto chose the locked-down environment of 2020 as his time to take the limelight, releasing eleven or so albums (or album-length releases at least) this year under his own name. With that in mind, it feels a little like missing the bigger story to focus on this collaborative release with guitarist Riki Hidaka here. Nevertheless, the two artists are well matched on Decalcomania, with Hidaka’s sometimes harsh guitar tones subdued in Yamamoto’s mix, brought out to provide raw texture to the submersing synthesiser waves.


16. Gezan – Klue
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Gezan. Starting out bringing a fun, raucous sort of Kansai Zero Sedai sort of theatrical junk with occasional nudity, they gradually became one of the great hopes of Japanese underground music, achieving borderline mainstream popularity with some decidedly pop-leaning efforts, while continuing to use their newfound influence to promote the underground scene around them in a way that so few other bands manage. I was settling into seeing them as something like an underground Asian Kung Fu Generation — audience-friendly but middle-of-the-road (and often frankly inane) pop-rock tunes combined with a genuinely admirable attitude towards the independent music scene — but Klue surprised me by turning out to be a genuinely exciting record on pretty much any level you look at it.

The deep turn into dub and psychedelia brings a richer, multilayered sound from which some truly explosive moments emerge, as well as being (a couple of grating exceptions aside) a far more comfortable background territory for Mahito The People’s anarcho-chipmunk vocals. It’s also a sound that suits on a quite fundamental level the mood and atmosphere of the album’s main muse: the city of Tokyo. And despite their origins in Osaka, it’s the band’s current home of the capital that really feeds this album, running through the veins of its grinding, pulsing rhythms and layers of noise and effects. It’s the primary lyrical focus as well, pulling political concerns from the world scale all the way down to everyday existence in the shadow of the machinery of the status quo, which also by the same nature represents a focus and crucible for the possibility of revolutionary change. Klue is an ambitious and timely album, as well as a striking expression of musical maturity from one of Japan’s most important current bands.

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Noiseconcrete – New world chapter 19 EP


Aichi prefecture’s Noiseconcrete has appeared on this site a few times as one half of the duo Noiseconcrete x 3chi5, setting his abrasive inclinations at the nexus of noise, hardcore and industrial off against vocalist 3chi5’s otherworldly vocal wanderings. On this EP we find him unfettered by the soft/harsh dynamic of his other project and diving straight into the pandemic chaos of 2020 with explosive vigour. There have been a few tracks emerging from the Japanese underground that touch on the COVID-19 crisis, especially as more artists adapt to life making music under the radically changed circumstances the scene and its infrastructure finds itself in, but none tackle it as relentlessly and head-on as this EP, which weaves samples of news reports and political statements blandly announcing the creeping disintegration of normal life with short, intense bursts of apocalyptic machine hardcore and tortured electronic noise. The only track that pushes past 90 seconds or so is 3-mitsu, devoted to Japan’s “three Cs” catchphrase of avoiding closed spaces, crowded spaces and close contact — three rules that essentially shut down the entire punk and hardcore scene, which makes it perhaps telling that it’s the only track that really diverges from a hardcore sonic dynamic, instead building through a menacing crescendo of drone as a cacophony of overlapping voices builds in the background. Released at the beginning of May at the peak of Japan’s initial state of emergency, this EP is an eerie and atmospheric reflection of the creeping panic of the pandemic’s early days, infused with its own dry and occasionally goofy sense of situationist wit.

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Top 20 Releases of 2016: No.1 – NOISECONCRETEx3CHI5 – Sandglass/Suna-Ji-Kei

noiseconcrete x 3chi5 - suna-ji-kei

CD, sssm, 2016

Despite being one of Japan’s largest cities, despite lying neatly right in the centre between Japan’s two biggest metropolitan areas, Nagoya feels like a strangely isolated city. Perhaps it’s the curse of those freeways and Shinkasen lines, which make it a bit of a flyover city for bands playing the Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto areas that makes Nagoya such a cultural island. Bands who are hot names in every major city between Tokyo and Fukuoka mean nothing in Nagoya, while peripheral acts from elsewhere can sometimes command huge audiences. It is a city of over two million, with a gravity well encompassing nearby cities such as Gifu, Toyota and Yokkaichi, but it behaves like a small town, with a few key spots and scene figures seeming to exert a huge influence over the musical conversation the city has. And the reverse is true too: a band can grow up fully formed in Nagoya without even the most powerful indie music antennae in the rest of the country picking up even the faintest signal. When I visited Nagoya last year, I dropped by a couple of these key spots — File-Under Records and Bar Ripple — and both places were buzzing with the same recommendation: Noiseconcrete x 3chi5’s debut album Suna-Ji-Kei (or Sandglass as the band themselves call it in English).

On first glance, this duo fits into the growing format of noise guy + girl vocalist that seems to be have been gaining ground over the past couple of years as the fashion kids get hip to noise. We’ve visited this general territory before with Jun Togawa and Hijokaidan’s Togawa Kaidan project (No.10 on this list) and there are occasional similarities in how Noiseconcrete x 3chi5 play with the borders between voice and noise. On Don’t Hate Me!, 3chi5’s vocals are contorted and raw, entwined with the harsh slashes of noise, while on the closing Dake her breathy utterances alternate with vocalisations that blur the line between human and machine. Also like Togawa Kaidan there are moments of vocal-less pure noise that interrupt the proceedings, with the two-part Behemoth no Yume.

Nevertheless, while Togawa Kaidan (and many of the pop/noise crossover records that have sprung up playing off the subcultural appeal of idol music) is interested in the tension between pop and noise, Suna-Ji-Kei tends to treat melody and noise as two dimensions of the same thing that are fundamentally at home with each other. When the noise elements of Ernst no Gensou scream into the frame like angry rockets, and the vocals tilt towards them with an edge of distortion, but elsewhere 3chi5’s delivery rings out clear, delivering her abstract poetry through bluesy improvisations that oscillate portentously around a couple of core notes against a backdrop of sparse industrial beats, simple chimes, and drones.

While the most obvious musical touchstone on first listen might be a trip hop act like Portishead, an even sparser FKA Twigs might be a more appropriate comparison. Dig deeper, however, and there’s also a thread linking what Noiseconcrete x 3chi5 do back to postpunk. Just as the original trip hop scene shared some of its roots with the jazz- funk- and dub-influenced Bristol postpunk scene, there are perhaps echoes in Suna-Ji-Kei of the gothic-edged, Joy Division-influenced postpunk that Nagoya bands like Zymotics/Vodovo, Sekaitekina Band and most recently WBSBFK trade in, not to mention the more obvious noise and hardcore influences. This is reflected in the members’ own roots, with Noisconcrete sharing close connections with the Nagoya hardcore scene, and 3chi5 also performing as part of the postpunk/experimental rock band Ghilom.

What Noiseconcrete x 3chi5’s music shares most particularly with postpunk is the way it seems to be reconstructing the jagged shards of other musical genres in a way that still allows you to see the join. The resulting album is at once dark, minimal and harshly industrial, but also captivating, melodic and beautiful. Most of the people I spoke to in Nagoya were in no doubt what their album of 2016 was, and Suna-Ji-Kei makes a strong case for best thing released in the whole country.

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