Bokutachi no Iru Tokoro
Kono Yo ni Umarete Kita Koto ga Somosomo Machigai


4.0
excellent

Review

by JohnnyoftheWell CONTRIBUTOR (90 Reviews)
June 17th, 2019 | 10 replies


Release Date: 04/06/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Short 'n' sweet art punk following in the footsteps of Osaka's finest

When the legendary jazz-punk quartet Midori disbanded in 2010, a certain gulf opened up in the Japanese alternative scene. It’s easy enough to see why; when abrasive bands prone to throwing curveballs do occasionally reach the level of cult popularity that Midori did, fans have a harder time moving on from them than they would with a more conventional band they loved equally. Think of good ol’ Mr. Bungle. And so, for better or worse the question of Who Will Be The Next Midori came into being. This proved to be a trickier niche to fill than one might have expected given the multitude of female-fronted Japanese groups playing with irreverent hellfire, and the extent of Midori’s combined strengths has become increasingly apparent. It turns out that they weren’t just about infectious punk fury of the nutso girl group variety. If that were the case, we could draw the line at Bleach03’s 2000 debut and forget the whole Midori conversation needed to happen, or pass it on to a more recent band like Otori, TsuShiMaMiRe or Otoboke Beaver. It wasn’t just about irreverent genre-smashing either, or else 385’s 2013 good-but-no-cigar freak-funk outing Ningen would have taken the crown (and both bands would have been squarely beaten at their own game back in 2006 by Hyakka). What really gave Midori their edge was the sheer intensity of entertainment brought to the table by their frontwoman Mariko Goto. This was obvious enough on-stage, but Goto (and also, to be fair, pianist Hajime) brought rare sense of character to Midori that resonated through every vocal inflection and noisy guitar accent with a distinctive cogency. It’s hard to understate how far a great band is elevated by a great frontwoman. This is quite the preamble, but I hope it goes some way to explain the tedium invoked whenever I see a band hailed as “the new Midori.” There’s only so many times you can go into albums with that attitude before it clicks that Midori were never really going to be replaced, and it’s often an unfair comparison that does a disservice to otherwise great bands.

However, of all the bands saddled with that label, the one best placed to wear it is easily Bokutachi no Iru Tokoro. This reason for this cuts right past their superficial resemblance as a female-fronted art-punk band and lands at the feet of the band’s most distinctive performer, frontwoman Jinsei Dame Ko. Her versatility is as impressive and charismatic as Goto’s ever was, covering the punk screams, coquettish trills and anthemic choruses with impressive confidence, but whereas Goto’s talent lay almost entirely in her performance, Jinsei Dame Ko is a competent vocalist and boasts a rich, almost operatic tone that sounds unlike anything else I’ve encountered in punk. Go check out Ai no Ana from their debut (or the rerecorded version on Boku Iru) and you’ll get me. Her voice can land on the grating side of performative, for the most part it hits a deliciously entertaining mark and elevates the band to no end. The Midori comparison has been done to death at this point (and shall henceforth be left behind), but it’s hard not to see the character and spark Jinsei Dame Ko brings to this band in similar terms to that which Mariko Goto brought to hers.

With that established, the second most persistent issue that has plagued Bokutachi no Iru Tokoro has been the way they deal with grit. At their best, they’re unpredictable, fun and explosive in a manner that thoroughly rocks with a real edge to it, but this is somewhat impeded on their two other albums. Their debut Jinsei Dame Ko to Moshimas is enjoyable and full of aggression and energy, but it loses a lot of its intensity in bland production, while 2016’s Gomi attempted to streamline their sound into marginally edgy pop-rock with frequently underwhelming results. On the other hand, their interim minialbum Kono Yo ni Umarete Kita Koto ga Somosomo Machigai nailed their sound in its full strength and remains a definitive statement of all the band’s best qualities. The album’s centrepiece tracks ニートは今日も*にたがる / NEET wa Kyou mo Shinitagaru and 産まれてきたのが / Umarete Kita no ga are infectious, whacky and occasionally outright nasty bruisers that showcase this style at its finest, and they are rounded off by a rerecording of the band’s centrepiece track あなたは*にませ / Anata wa Shinimase, a momentous punk ballad that packs an impressively emotive punch and demonstrates a multifaceted quality to the band’s passionate side. While she was all snarl and tension on the previous few tracks, here Jinsei Dame Ko’s switches to full-blown rock opera mode and her versatility feels highly satisfying. This carries onwards to the album’s most downbeat track 心の終わり / Kokoro no Owari, which is pretty enough on its own but feels like a perfect successor to Anata wa Shinimase in a way that 人骨フィーバー / Jinkou Fever on their debut (the song’s first outing) did not. Similarly, the album’s poppiest outing 恋なんて嫌い / Koi Nante Kirai (which effectively turned out to be a teaser for most of Gomi) is sweet and catchy on a standalone listen but is bookended by two of the fiercest rockers on offer here, maximising its payoff.

While the sequencing is exemplary here, the range and quality of tracks here are ultimately what earns Kono Yo ni… the evasive calibre of innovative, lean satisfaction that the brand ‘art punk’ continually teases but rarely delivers in full. It’s slick, creative and altogether fun in a way that lands it safely in the Essential Listening pile for any fan of this part of the Japanese scene, but moreover makes it a worthwhile find for punk or alternative fans in general. It’s not quite perfect (closer 最後のギャルの惑星 / Saigo no Girl no Wakusei is a bemusing mess that sees the album fall at the last hurdle), but for the most part every track adds a distinctive quality that makes for a succinct, rewarding listen and stands as this band’s high-water mark.



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user ratings (1)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
June 16th 2019


15555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Apologies in advance to anyone unfamiliar with Midori who reads this (although there's an easy way to fix that ;])

This is a really fun rock jam, recommended to anyone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC3kz7PO7uM

Digging: bloodthirsty butchers - Kocorono

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2019


3158 Comments


honestly find jinsei to be a much more entertaining vocalist than mariko, personally found midori to be worthwhile more for the instrumentation than anything. had no idea these guys had four albums! jammed boku iru a bit back and really liked it, excited to crack into this. stellar review dude. gonna jump on that Bleach03 EP too!

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2019


15555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah sweet, cheers man! Boku Iru is basically a rerecorded compilation album so you'll find a lot of their older stuff q familiar, but this is defo worth for that sweet sweet sequencing alone. Think Jinsei is definitely the better vocalist, but the amount of strain Mariko puts her voice through is a big draw for me (that first track on Second...)

And yeah that Bleach03 EP is absolute hellfire, was tempted to do a writeup for that too. Need to explore more of their discog

Pikazilla
June 17th 2019


1350 Comments


Them vocals lol

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2019


15555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pika pika rawr

ramon.
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2019


3158 Comments


topical and timely content
https://youtu.be/I_ftEbCQ6Ec

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2019


15555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn that Pikachu smashed hard

Uzumaki
June 17th 2019


1224 Comments


Sweet, another album to add to my list of music to check. Nice review, man!

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2019


15555 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

:] :]

Tchitcherine
June 24th 2019


207 Comments


Great review and band! Discovered this band because of this review. I listened to their first LP, Boku Iru and this EP yesterday and will do the same today



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