False Fish at The Bridge
After dropping J. off to Taiwan, I took the train down to The Bridge, a musicians’ collective in the Shinsekai area of Osaka, in order to see Niseuo. This second visit to The Bridge has only cemented my conviction that this is a rare and special performance space. I can’t think of too many places where you can consistently find a group of tight, dedicated, and serious musicians — in other words, true players — who aren’t uptight or scene-centered in any way. Omori-san, the bass player for Niseuo, recognized me from the show they played with Four Flea Circus and we ended up talking for awhile before he reintroduced me to the rest of the band. Later, after their set was over, Omori-san bought me a beer and then they put the saxophonist’s crazy, straw peasant hat on me while I helped them carry parts of the xylophone down to their car.
1. Haizara (灰皿 means “ashtray” in Japanese): These guys can really cook. A kind of mélange of Bitch’s Brew fusion, Mahavishnu Orchestra structure and motion, cosmic space-synth, funk improvisation, and a devastating rock attack. The trio is made up of keyboards, guitar, and drums and ranges in style from free-jazz galaxy improvisation (keyboards) to more classic but funky jazz riffs (guitar), all backed by the driving engine of kick-drum and kit. I picked up their CD, The Tower, which features an image of a girl in black Converse staring out at the unfinished Tower of Babel. I think Haizara wants to keep building because they haven’t yet found the musical language that they can exhaust.
2. NAAZI: NAAZI sounds like a huge wall of Mogwai, which is no bad thing. The thing I liked most about this group was the way in which they managed to create a wall of feedback through which you could hear the individual voices of every wire in every piece of equipment shrieking together in unison. Nice low sine waves of feedback effect that could be felt lapping through the body.
3. Niseuo (贋魚 means “false fish” in Japanese): Imagine a cross between the Sun Ra Arkestra, Tom Waits, The Boredoms, and some kind of absurdist, Dadaist cabaret. The singer, Matsumoto-san, channels Louis Armstrong and Mike Patton together while the band puts together a careening sonic narrative that runs the gamut from trad-jazz inflection to full-on h4x0r grade frenetic soundscapes. Although I love the bit where the singer cries angst while shooting the Mona Lisa, I also can’t get enough of the hilarious bit where he keeps making phone calls to the keyboard. Omori-san tells me that the Art Ensemble of Chicago is a major influence, but I don’t think the Ensemble ever came up with anything resembling this. Spectacular.
Filed under: culture, Japan, Kansai, music, Osaka, performance | Leave a Comment
Tags: concert review, 灰皿, distortion, experimental music, 贋魚, Haizara, improvisation, jazz, NAAZI, Niseuo, The Bridge, wall of sound