Nisennenmondai: Neji/ Tori (Smalltown Supersound)
Nisennenmondai is the Japanese term for “Y2K bug,” and, yes, the band does sound like the end of the world. Zaikawa Yuri (bass), Himeno Sayaka (drums), and Takada Masako (guitar) are the three women behind this Boredoms-meet-Neu! instrumental trio, and these two EPs are their first release outside of Japan.
Originally self-released in 2004 and 2005 respectively, Neji/Tori are a maelstrom of furious drumming, completely blown/ fuzzed-out bass, and screaming guitar that sucks your ears into a vortex of noise.
Neji is the noisier of the pair, living completely in the red as if recorded without a VU meter. Tracks such as “Pop Group,” “This Heat,” and “Sonic Youth” serve as something of a tribute to the bands by which Nisennenmondai has been influenced.
Although “Pop Group” doesn’t employ any dub elements like the late ’70s post-punk band, it does take on a repetitive, trance-like state thanks to a relentless tribal beat.
Again, “This Heat” doesn’t use any of the tape looping that British experimenters This Heat were known for, but it manages to capture the creepy soundscape feeling from the Health & Efficiency EP through the use of tapped guitar and droning bass. Perhaps easier to emulate, “Sonic Youth” sounds just like its namesake.
Neji also contains two non-band-named songs, which are equally noisy, filthy, and inspiring, the last being “Ikkkyokume,” which sees the band moving in a more progressive direction. Tori is a slightly cleaner recording than Neji and shows the band following krautrock influences to terrific success.
“Kyuukohan” opens with a simple hi-hat and bass-drum pattern complemented by subdued strumming on bass and guitar. This is punctuated with guitar stabs and, eventually, snare cracks that lend an off-kilter, disorienting feeling to the song.
Around the four-minute mark, the song explodes in a mess of guitar and a fury of drums; it’s an amazing track. “Kyaaaaaaa” is a two-and-a-half-minute rumbling noise piece, featuring short human shrieks.
The second version of “Ikkkyokume” is a refined version of the first and is a monumental take. Finally, “Iyashi” closes out the EP with a very Sonic Youth-sounding forty seconds before ten minutes of silence.
After the silence, the song returns with something that could only be described as classic Japanese noise rock. Taking the baton from its predecessors, Nisennenmondai and its contemporaries are the future of the scene.
– Nate Daly