Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Japanische Kampfhörspiele - Luxusvernichtung EP

JaKa MySpace
Release Date: 2009
Label: Unundeux
Release Type: CD; 10"

Japanische Kampfhörspiele, or JaKa, as the band so kindly refers to themselves, roughly translates to Japanese Combat Radio Plays. This little gem is subtitled Vierundfünfzig vertonte Kurzgedichte which translates to "Fifty-four composed short poems." Haiku would be the better term, since like haiku these are songs that are done before you know it, with only an image of what you heard remaining in memory.

With that subtitle in mind, it is easy to see that what we have here is a concept album. The play list contains 55 songs in 38 minutes. It would be equally easy to jump to the conclusion that the "concept" is nothing more than paying homage to the cornerstone of Grindcore: the Micro-Song; one riff blast fests that serve little purpose beyond adhering to the grindcore mantra of "Short, Fast and Loud." JaKa actually takes a different route; in fact they are on an altogether different autobahn: there is maybe one minute of blast beats on the whole release.

The simplest way I can describe their approach to this EP is ADHD Thrash. The are playing thrash within grindcore's micro-song structure. And I mean they play proper thrash; ripping out riff after riff that, when compiled, would easily provide enough fuel for a lesser band to use over the course of two or three albums. True to the title, less than 10 of the 54 main haiku are over 30 seconds, with only two of these breaking the one minute barrier. Like a collection of poems, which can follow a theme but must inevitably consist of individual pieces, these guys took great pains to ensure nearly every song, no matter how short, has its own recognizable riffs. There is little obvious borrowing or altering from song to song.

Also of note: the vocals are in German. We get a two-fronted attack, with the main duties coming from a thrash snarl/rasper and accents coming in the form of death growls. The vocals are generally humorous (see: Metallica) but non-native speakers are far from missing out: like death metal and grindcore vocals (which you can't understand anyway) the vocal pace creates rhythms that fit well with the songs. Finally we come to percussion. Thrash drumming and double bass abound. As mentioned, there is very little blasting to be had. What blast beats we do hear are well placed and organic - you might not even notice them until after the fact.

Taken as a whole, I have no interest in this approach to music. It begs a serious question: what's the point of all these songs if they tend to end right as you are getting into them? The answer is simple: Track 55. I call it the Moment of Greatness. Here we get a 19-minute instrumental slab of the previous 54 songs. Many of them are mixed together, while others are separated by a one-second gap. It plays like a sample platter and is truly Reason Number One to buy the EP. Throughout the album there are riffs galore, loads of quality thrash drumming (a ton of double bass) and a general feel that JaKa are tremendous musicians - but the micro-song approach featured here is an understandable distraction. Track 55 addresses this issue triumphantly - I can't recommend it enough.

If you appreciate what they are doing but want lengthier songs, you will enjoy their previous releases. The songs are indeed longer while more importantly, the music is pretty much the same. Win-win situation.

Songs that stood out:
Leben; Enttieren; Uberall; Werd Doch; Vernetzte Welt Geht Unter; Halsabscneider.


Flesh Monolith said...

The Japanese have yet to disappoint me (as long as we stay away from jrock, jpop, jmetal, power metal, visual kei...well in terms of crust/hardcore/metal/whathaveyou.

Axel Sikth said...

A quick search on M-A shows these guys to be Germans though, interestingly enough. I have to say, this sounds like one hell of a grind release, and I haven't even listened to it yet. Normally, micro-songs aren't my thing, save for maybe Insect Warfare's songs on their split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed, but your review has got me interested. Damn man. Good job.

And track 55 sounds like one hell of a song. 19-minute grindcore instrumental, who would have thought of creating something like that, much less actually do it? Crazy bastards. This is one release I'm going to HAVE to check out. And it's rare that I say that.

206 said...

It's just the first 54 songs played front to back. Interesting idea - burnt it as a stand along disk.

Axel Sikth said...

Oh man. I thought it was a new song, with a different structure and with all the riffs from the previous ones. Damnit. It'd be wicked if they could pull that off.

206 said...

You propose quite an idea. I wonder who has the talent to pull that off without losing the grindcore feel...

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