Review Summary: One of Japan's most obscure 80's groups create one of the most bizarre records Japan has to offer.
Okay everybody, I have a question for all of you. What do you get when you mix new wave, highly experimental rock, crank your electro dials all the way up, throw in a bit of post-punk, have a childlike frontman, throw in electro-psychedelica, and mix all of this up in a Japanese blender? Well, you get the legendary Japanese 80's group, Uchoten, of course. Uchoten are one of Japan's most obscure bands to come out of the 80's, and for good reason. It is most likely because the mainstream, even Japan's mainstream, can rarely swallow a band as contorted as Uchoten. While their previous record, "Peace", had some approachable material to it (including their most well-known single, "Bye-Bye"), "Aissle" is strictly experimental and tries to recapture the bizarre experimental style that Uchoten used to offer in their earlier days (see the compilation "Vegetable" for more details). Needless to say, "Aissle" is arguably their most twisted and uneven record in their catalog, so for those who wish to embark on this journey, I say good luck, because even the most openminded of the experimental genre might have trouble in the seas of "Aissle".
The album opens up with a minute-and-a-half intro, which mixes a psychedelic guitar sample with a hypnotic electro loop. The vocalist, Kera, is shown being distorted and rambling his head off. The intro has a bit of a traditional 80's Japanese pop sample, but it cuts off, while Kera, sounding disgruntled, seems to put an abrupt "end" to the Japanese singer. The album then breaks off into "Meaning of Love", which, despite sounding quite straightforward, is an acidic Japanese pop track, which features the childlike style of Kera, while keeping the disturbing sound effects that were first shown in the intro. Quite an interesting track to start off the album with. "Fine" is a bit of a less insane track, and actually follows quite a straightforward 80's pattern. With it being just 2 minutes, there's really not that much to say about it. Still a pretty good track though, despite it's shortness. "Hontouwa Kare ga Ichi Ban Togi Takumina no Kamo Shirenai" is arguably one of the album's most disturbing and experimental tracks, which features a unique pattern of tortoise-like slowness, and hare-like speed. The highly synthesized vocals of Kera throughout the main part of the track is likely to put the listener in a trippy state. "Bokura wa Minna Imiganai" is another experimental track, while not as out there as "Hontouwa...", the track is still a unique display, as it shows off a playful jungle-like rhythm, while maintaining the trippy feel of the album. "Sleeper" is one of the best tracks on the album, that takes a bit of influence from groups like The Cure, and mixing those influences together with the atypical Uchoten sound. A highly addictive track to say the least, and the chorus may as well be audio heroin to the typical experimental listener.
"Mitsuke Tori ~Grimm Douwa Yori~" is a pretty good track, that centers around a bass drum and piano stabs. The track is the longest on the album (4 and a half minutes), thus making it a bit stale after a while. Still a decent track when everything's said and done. "Dance" centers around a highly addictive new wave kind of sound and mixes it together with the Uchoten style. Another superb track. "Sezoku Tekina Sekai Tanken" comes across sounding like a child song with down syndrome, making it another distinctive track for the highly experimental album. The next two tracks, "Kareda" and "Insert" have a high tempo to them, making them high paced tracks for such a downtone and mind raping sort of album. The intensity of the tracks makes them to be quite effective and breaks away from the acidic and psychedelic/experimental sound of the album, at least for almost 3 minutes. "Isshinou Parade" brings back the trippy sound of the album, and follows a pattern of a sludgy/dancehall marching/bigband... one has to listen to it in order to fully grasp this description. "Kakurenbou" is another straightforward new wave track that channels the style of "Fine". Another solid track for the conjoined audio acid trip. "Natural Catastrophe" is actually as much of a typical Uchoten track as one can get, a high paced 80's-esque track, energetic vocals from Kera, and psychedelic overtones. A pretty good track, and works as a good intro for the final track, "Shoot Up". The melodies of "Shoot Up" will make one feel like they literally are tripping in a good state. "Shoot Up" is probably the most sane of all of the tracks, and is an overall feelgood type of track. The spastic interlude is typical of any Uchoten track. And despite the seemingly disjointed ways of "Shoot Up", it still is the most "sober" track on the album. It works as a great finisher, and closes the listener out the same way they left, with some sanity.
In short, Uchoten's "Aissle" is essentially what happens when Japanese mainstream music takes a ***load of acid, trips its brains out, and pukes out something some might call "insightful", or "brilliant" while others may scream that its "musical blasphemy", or, in simpler terms, "***". Whatever the case may be, one who hears "Aissle" is very unlikely to forget it, and the disturbing display of Japanese new wave in the bowels of hell will definitely burn a hole in the brains of listeners everywhere. Whether the burning will be good or not, only you can decide. But either way, "Aissle" is definitely a unique specimen, and a damn good example of experimental 80's music done horribly wrong, but ending up to be horribly right.