Release Date: May 20, 2014
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
There’s a point in Psychedelic Misemono Goya (reprise) where Taigen, Bo Ningen‘s lead singer, drops into English and asks “shall we dance?”. The inclination is to incredulously mouth at him: “Dance? Dance? Fucking dance? The drummer has just caved in my skull. The guitarists are now attempting to knot the exposed neurons. Dance? I can barely see anymore.” Bo Ningen are quite something.
Bo Ningen, it seems, exist to confuse. The name may sound (somewhat) Scandinavian, but the four members are all Japanese and they live in London. III is, however, their third full-length, yet while that’s straightforward enough, its 10 songs are anything but. Just when you think you have the untameable polyrhythms and discordant yelps of opener DaDaDa pegged, the song shifts direction.
The booming, Bonham-esque drums that begin "Inu," the fourth song on Japan-by-way-of-London psych unit Bo Ningen's third album, III, point to a band bred on classic heavy rock. The clean swaggering guitars that come in shortly seem to back up this classic rock feel, but before too long the song starts taking on a strange shape, contorted with bubbling echo effects and mangled choppy guitar flutters that are eventually rooted into place with a minimal ping-ponging bassline right out of a Stereolab tune. Manic, shouty vocals and haunted whispers layered on top of each other by singer Taigen Kawabe make the song all the more unpredictable, as does the driving grunge rock bridge that comes in two-thirds of the way through.
If Alice, of Wonderland fame, had fallen down one rabbit hole, then another, then another after that and a few more, she might have met Bo Ningen. In their floor-length robes, twirling guitars around their heads with a melting psychedelic landscape and a giant steampunk airship playing endless anime repeats, dominating the sky. That’s actually disappointingly conventional for Bo Ningen, who probably struggled to be as straightforward as to call a third album ‘III’.Residing in London, but Japanese born, Bo Ningen manage to create an unholy cocktail of two other mildly famous Japanese acts, with the off-kilter arty punk of Polysics and the breakneck speed of Mad Capsule Markets.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Bands are on the way out, they tell us. Even a quick glance at any of the tastemakers lists of up and coming acts will show a heavy bias in favour of solo acts and duos, with your classic guitar-bass-drums line-up barely getting a look in. Whilst the reasons for this are no doubt varied and complex, ask yourselves this.
Bo Ningen’s self-titled 2010 debut album arrived like a lightning strike on a clear day. The London-based Japanese four-piece sounded genuinely unhinged, as you’d have to be to combine such improbable influences as ’70s prog-rock windbags King Crimson and Japanese ’90s noise terrorist Masonna (whose live performances were so extreme they often lasted one solitary minute). The resulting confrontational, psychedelic garage rock didn’t sound like anything else.
For a wallow in obsessive love, it’s hard to top “Your Love Is Killing Me” on Sharon Van Etten’s fourth album, “Are We There” (Jagjaguwar). Its opening drumbeat echoes from deep down or far away; organ chords suggest hymnlike devotion, and a lone guitar note only illuminates the ….
Bo Ningen have made "a sound" out of not having one, or rather via a saturation of gloriously overwhelming noise and ideas that converge in an organised, yet frantic way. In fact, "frantic" may be the best description for much of Bo Ningen's style, and never has it been more applicable than on the foursome's latest record III. These Japanese-born, London-based psychedelic-rockers/acid-punks/whatever-you-want-to-call-ems knocked the critics spinnin' with their 2010 eponymous debut and continue to crumble the cochleas of the UKs braver gig-goers with their ferocious and eccentric live performances.
Anybody lucky enough to experience Central Tokyo will recall total sensory overload. Shibuya at rush hour is an attack from all sides: a never-ending sea of faces, cars, adverts, lights and noise, all vying for attention coming at you with no place for any kind of respite. Japanese four piece Bo Ningen encapsulate this feeling perfectly. Their music is an attack on the senses; heavy, intense, incredibly dense, and at times, violent, like losing yourself in the loudest pachinko parlour in town.