Tincture of Japanoise

by V.A.

While Merzbow plays museums and ‘noise’ becomes increasingly canonised in ‘high culture,’ this compilation proves that the underground, countercultural Japanese noise scene is still very much alive and kicking. Noisician ORiFiCE, who also curates the noise-oriented Rollator Series on the attenuation circuit label, has been a keen follower of Japanoise for many years. For this album, he has assembled a range of younger artists from Japan whose pieces display an exhilarating freshness and showcase the great variety of approaches that is covered by the umbrella term ‘noise.’ The great surrealist/punk collage cover was created by established noisician Government Alpha.

“Frustrante oso polar!”, the opening track by Abisyeikah, clearly establishes noise as anti-music: samples of marching bands and other similarly traditional music are sonically destroyed with distorted guitars and computer-game beeps. Sounds like machinegunning reactionary composers at a game arcade, which is to say: a lot of fun! Zr3a also opens his track “Dr. Strangenoise” with a very famous sample … and goes on to desecrate it thoroughly. A great track with a great deal of humour, just as, thankfully, most of the tracks here are self-consciously playful and indulging the bliss of noise instead of rehashing the by now overly familiar poses of cultural pessimism. “Bean” by Naoki Nomoto has a more abstract take on noise. Its feedback and glitch-type sounds created with an analog synthesizer are faintly reminiscent of more academic electronic music. “LxDxP (Love Dream Peace)” by Ememe goes in another direction with its rhythmic quasi-techno noise, a real headbanger. Elma pays tribute to the classic Japanoise sound as defined by Merzbow with the hissing, harsh “(In)Tolerance?” The next piece makes for one of several interesting contrasts that the album offers thanks to ORiFiCE’s clever sequencing of the tracks: “Grandblue” by Hedoromeruhen gives evidence to the territory shared by noise and (free) jazz while taking the piss out of some softer sides of music along the way. With “Gainful Heart Amen Noiser” by Zpore Zpawn, we launch into the finish of the album, in which samples of classical music collide head on with hectic, energetic harsh noise in overdrive. The final track by Jah Excretion is titled “Sleep Garden” – a programmatic title in so far as this piece gives evidence to the (apparent) paradox that the noisiest music can sometimes be the most meditative and soothing.

File under: noise

ACU 1002

factory-pressed CD in cardboard sleeve

Released in 2014

unlimited edition

price: 7.00 EUR (excl. postage)

1.ABISYEIKAH - Frustrante oso polar! 13:18

2.Zr3a - Dr. Strangenoise 10:41

3.NAOKI NOMOTO - Bean 09:07

4.EMEME - LxDxP (Love Dream Peace) 09:35

5.ELMA - (In)Tolerance? 11:18

6.HEDOROMERUHEN - Grandblue 08:54

7.ZPORE ZPAWN - Gainful Heartful Amen Noiser 05:38

8.JAH EXCRETION - Sleep Garden 06:24

Compiled and curated by ORiFiCE

Coverartwork by GOVERNMENT ALPHA

Design by EMERGE


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When I got this release on CD-R I was pleasantly surprised about the idea to put up a compilation which will catch up situation about newer artists on a Japanoise scene, but after I took a look on the bandcamp page and realized what’s this compilation is all about, it made me think for a while until I start reviewing it. It’s a look over on today’s Japanoise scene in comparison of what Merzbow is doing today. I am not sure if those artists are pissed on a Merzbow’s decision to play gigs in museums and events that have nothing to do about with underground noise scene or this is just a presentation of underground noise scene in Japan today. It’s ridiculous to be pissed on a guy who established noise on so many levels and built up everything that we consider as noise with almost four hundred releases till this day. It’s like we should blame Iron Maiden for betraying a heavy metal scene. However, the compilation is presented with eight artists who do various styles of noise which is good, but not in a style that Merzbow, Massona, K2, Astro, Hanatarash, Incapacitants or any other older artists from Japan would do. Somehow, I miss all the fun with simple sets where you simply plug your contact microphone into delay and distortion pedals and ruin the room with some unpleasant cacophony until all the visitors escape from the club. This compilation, however, has some other value and it can be a perfect showcase for the next generations of noisicians. There’s a lot of good ideas involved in it, with all those synth box manipulations, radio station interruptions, glitches, standard pedal effects such as chorus, tremolo, flanger, auto riff…etc. Also, there’s a lot of stuff I can’t recognize and it sounds surprisingly good, some effects I haven’t heard on the tapes presented by the artists from Europe and the USA. Who knows, maybe this compilation is a new gem for fans of noise. It’s not the kind of harsh noise I like to listen, so it’s not definitely my cup of tea, but I am sure that this compilation and artists involved on it will somehow find their way to potential worshippers of a brand new Japanoise underground scene.



The final CD release for now is an eight-track compilation dedicated to the world Japanese noise music. As the label says, Merzbow plays museums and 'noise becomes increasingly canonised in 'high culture', somebody has to look out for the real underground. This compilation digs deep into the underground, I guess, as none of the eight names mean anything to me. We have the abstract mess/mash-up collage by Abisyeikah, which bounces all over the place, while Ludwig Van's Fifth opens the piece by Zr3a, and throughout he uses more bits of classical music, which I didn't recognize, but like a good droog Alex as he probably he is, he places a bit of ultra-violence in large granite blocks on the road. Naoki Nomoto seems to be much more serious with a piece for analogue synthesizer or computer glitches and operates in a more traditional (?) academic electronic music way, but taking 50+ years of electronic music to a noisy top-floor. Ememe is the first more traditional noisemaker, in the best Merzbow tradition, not bad, but we do have Merzbow already, which actually might also be said about Elma. Free improvisation arrives from Hedoromeruhen, and perhaps, sometimes, also a bit on the soft side. It's also the first time we hear the rattling of a drumkit here. Zpore Zpawn is also about the more traditional Merzbow, but then era of 'SCUM', cutting through a whole bunch of blocks of feedback and heavily treated drum sounds - and remember: Merzbow too was a drummer very early on. Jah Excretion might be an all to effective destruction of dub music. This is an interesting and fine introduction to a whole bunch of new names.


Bad Alchemy:

Burkhard Jäger, einschlägig bekannt als der noisophile Orifice, hat mit Tincture Of Japanoise (ACU 1002, CD-R) acht aktuelle Vertreter dieser ultrabruitisti­schen Ästhetik kompiliert. Ob da weiterhin die Spätfolgen jener großen Kant?-und Little Boy-Kicks spürbar sind, die als Godzillarandalen und Anfang der 1980er als Japanoise boomten, mit zugleich posttraumatischem Anstoß und therapeutischem Impetus? Wohl kaum. Abisyeikah, seit 1994 aktiv, lassen einen Eisbären tanzen zu Mariachis, verhackstücktem Gesang, Videospielkrawall und gebolzten Beats. Das harsche Grau in Grau pulverisieren sie mit Schneekano­nen zum kasperlbunten Feuerwerk, zum Mashup mit Discogestampfe. 'Dr. Strange­noise' wird bei Zr3a zum Gunslinger-Overkill, bei dem sie ihre Magazine gegen klassische Phantome leer feuern, die im 3/4-Takt umeinander geistern. Aufs Korn nehmen sie aber auch das Schwadronieren über Atomenergie als Allheil­mittel. Während andere den Strauß spielen und alles den Bach runter geht, leisten sie Widerstand bis zur letzten Platzpatrone. Naoki Nomoto (der auch schon mit HUH Geister erschreckt hat) überrascht bei 'Bean' mit impulsivem Modularsynthiegefurzel und -gezwitscher, DJ R2-D2 auf Raster Noton. Hiroshi Nomura lässt als ememe die 'Love-Dream-Peace'-Pumpe pumpen, was das Zeug hält, um einen toten Hasen auf Godzillagröße aufzublasen. Ueda Hideo, der als Elma schon auf Neus-318 umeinander tobte, obwohl er für die zarte Ak­trice Ayako Wakao schwärmt und er auch offene Ohren für Conrad Schnitzler hat, zeigt harsch wütende Nulltoleranz gegen Intoleranz. Das Duo Hederome­ruhen mischt Flöte und Stimmen in einen perkussiven und dann komisch ent­schleunigten Loop und stimmt sogar Liedermachergewinsel an. Allerhand An­spielungen sind an uns Langnasen verschwendet, aber wenn sie dann Taikoge­trommel verstolpern, wird zumindest die Tendenz deutlich. Eine interessante Wahl. Zpore Zpawn ist wie Zr3a und Spore Spawn eine Maske von Hikaru Tsu­nematsu, der mit Drummachine und giftigen Impulsen, aber auch wieder Klas­siksamples Totstellreflexe auslöst. Zuletzt strahlt Jah Excretion mit brachial brasselndem Sandstrahldruck rundum den Beton kraut- und keimfrei. Wo nichts lebt, kann nichts verderben. Und das ist nach den smartiesbunten Innovationen dann doch der Raison d'être des Japanoise so treu, wie es dem japanischen Bushido-Kodex entspricht. [BA 84 rbd]


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