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Z – MIKABE (Transduction Records)

Posted: March 24th, 2007, by Pascal Ansell

One of the beauties of this job (well, it’s not a job really) is that you get sent stuff that in now way in hell you’d get your hands on normally. And it’s a joy.

The Japanese hardcore/jazz four piece, Z is a great example. Their 2006 album, ‘Mikabe’ is blessed with a palpable nervous energy, stricken with stress lines and angst. As with most interesting music, Z are terrifically difficult to pigeonhole – a most indirect reference would be Shellac panic attack or an At the Drive In that chooses to avoid the contrived structures, aiming for a still cerebral yet masterly flowing whole. Fu-manchu’d frontman Jun Nemoto yields an outrageous sax, eschewing the novelty of it all squealing with a unique abrasiveness, a fraught edge augmenting the wholly original Z sound. Jun’s vocals are strikingly edgy whilst singing and magnificently spluttering whilst shrieking. I like the fact I don’t know what he’s so desperately screaming about – the element of the unknown is a thing to revel in.

You’ve got to listen to ‘Mikabe’ just for the third track, ‘Zushiki Man’. After a minute-long blustering sax solo, an unexpected blast ensues, and the band follow a steadfast and sublimely grinding motif. It’s addictive.

I’ve listened to this album many, many times, and the sound never gets dull by being familiar or even recognisable. Perhaps this is because there is no definite tonal key or easy-to-pinpoint melodies – just chunks of slow-paced riffs and piercing saxophone squirls. Add a bit of Japan to your record collection, you Anglophile fool.

Pascal Ansell

Pascal Ansell

Pascal is a fearsome, hungry giant trapped in the body of a hyperactive boy. On a mission to waste no more than 14 seconds per day, he bounds from activity to activity like a deer being chased by a cheetah. Follow him now, as in ten year's time he'll be a leading voice in something or other. He's also writing down every word you say in a small book so watch out!


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