My interest in Japanese culture is quite selective. While I love Japanese history and have a theoretical interest in much of Japanese religion and philosophy, the modern popular culture of the Land of the Rising Sun usually leaves me cold. In plain English: I loathe anime, and if I didn’t have a non-diagnosed autistic streak I’d go right ahead and call it Manga along with actual Manga, which I also don’t like. Other popular Western internet imports from Japan include “hilarious porn”, cosplay and demented game-shows, and very little of this is really that interesting. Sure, there’s always Kurosawa and a bunch of black metal and grindcore bands and so forth, but in general I’m all about the feudal era when it comes to Japan appreciation.
There is however one very obvious exception, and that is a very modern Japanese cultural phenomenon that I’ve grown to love without reservation: Japanoise. Exactly why it is that harsh noise artists from Japan are so incredibly skilled, I don’t know. Nor will I try to invent some dumb-ass anthropological explanation about work-related stress or highly hierarchical societies, but if anyone has a decent explanation I’m all eyes in the comment field.
Mitei Narico is yet another Japanese experimental noise musician. To the extent that you associate japanoise with nothing but violent feedback and bondage pictures (the latter of which is actually far less common than is usually assumed by non-specialists), you’re in for quite a few surprises. Apparently based mainly on “material recorded in various places” and turned into music, Mitei Narico’s noise spans the entire spectrum of experimental music – ambient, harsh noise and minimal. Elimination of Ego was released on April 20th and contains ten tracks, each with its distinct style.
The character of the different tracks vary widely, but most are largely centered around different forms of naked, reductionist (dark) ambient or experimental sounds, which time and again escalate into, or are overridden by, more radical sound types. First track “e001” is quite subdued until the last few minutes, when it bursts forth into strange harsh noise constructions. “e003” contains a variety of sampled elements, many of which are musical, and here as well the sources become muddled and distorted through the utilization of various effects, until halfway through it brings out the harsh noise big-guns with painful feedback and scratchy, strange rhythms. “e004” works with feedback and effects, possibly with some synth in there somewhere, and the abuse of lower and higher frequencies is painful but impressive.
As we continue to listen, it becomes clear that there is no predicting this badboy. On “e005”, there is clean percussion accompanying a feedback hell and numerous unidentifiable sound sources, and with each track there’s always something new and unexpected coming in from left field to catch you off-guard. Selecting a favorite is difficult, but perhaps “e008” and its slightly sci-fi blip-blop, developing into something ever stranger, would be a good candidate.
Elimination of Ego is not stereotypical Japanoise, or stereotypical harsh noise at all. At times it is a trying listen. The densely layered song structures and the metric ton of musical/anti-musical ideas in play here is astounding, though. While we at Archaic Triad always defend the purist, generic and faithful expressions of various extreme genres, it is always interesting when someone makes something their own. Considering this is free, unless you have the decency to pay a few bucks for it, you have little reason not to fetch this to your hard-drive.