Review Summary: Japanese quartet make bizarre, unsettling, infectious noise-pop
Shinsei Kamattechan (or 神聖かまってちゃん) are a pretty interesting band. I discovered them around January this last year while looking for music by the hardcore jazzpunk band Midori. Despite the fact that the Midori album was enjoyable--loud, fast, and just generally what I was expecting--it was ultimately the Shinsei Kamattechan album that stuck with me. What I found most fascinating about the band wasn’t their intensity or technical ability, but their eclectic approach to just about every aspect of their sound. In general, they struck me as being unusual.
The opener to Tsumanne
begins with a few bass notes followed by a wave of odd, somewhat symphonic synth, backed by some light drumming and guitarwork. The lead vocalist Noko enters, his voice utterly drenched in strange effects. Pitch-shifted up at least an octave and attacked with reverb and delay, it’s made to sound almost like two voices are working at once. His delivery is eerily childlike and the slightest bit threatening, especially when his vocals are layered on top of one another to create a choral effect in the song’s expansive refrain. The guitars explode, the pianos in the background are all sorts of delicate, and although the song is less than two and a half minutes long, it perfectly sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album.
The primary goal of the band doesn’t seem to be to make loud, scary rock music, but instead to twist and brutalize pop music beyond recognition. In the track that follows, the same haunting chorus is employed as was in the opener; this is one of the only elements that consistently appears throughout the album. In this case, the refrain utilizes them in a quick, chopped-up fashion that vaguely reminds me of some of the sounds My Bloody Valentine might make. The song also finds Noko without any effects on his voice; instead, though, he doesn’t so much sing as shriek
. It sounds as exactly as disturbing as you might imagine, and I absolutely love it.
There are twelve tracks on here, though, and I’ve spent this much text talking about two. This is a testament to the variety and nuance placed into this album; no two songs sound even the slightest bit similar. The third track is far lower-key and almost friendly-sounding. The fourth is a charmingly ethereal ballad. The fifth, easily my favorite on the album, combines soaring, atmospheric vocals with crunchy electronic percussion. The sixth has bouncey, delightful synth and the seventh elegant strings.
Though it’s not my favorite on the LP, the album’s eighth track is easily the most startling of the bunch. Pairing buzzy synths with aggressive and furiously modulated vocals, the song is dense, loud, and perfectly demonstrates the band’s love for noise-rock. There are bizarre roars and bleeps and trebley whines too, all wailing away at the same time for almost three minutes. It’s really tough to describe. Pretty hellish, honestly.
is extremely diverse, consistent, and abnormal. Even though I can’t understand a word of Japanese, I find it completely enthralling. What excites me most about Shinsei Kamattechan, though, is their age as a band; this is only their second album (or possibly their third, but I won’t get into that), and they already show a huge amount of ambition and talent. The sounds they make are unlike what I’ve heard any other band create. Even if you don’t listen to much Japanese music, if you can handle a little bit of a screamfest, I would highly recommend checking this band out. They still have a lot of growth yet to do, but this release is an amazing display of potential.