Wednesday, 19 March 2008



This band is a wicked mystery.  I originally heard them on the John Peel show on Radio One as a staggering noise track burst from my stereo speakers.  It actually turned out to be two tracks (“Taa Get Center” and “Pudring”) but such was the brevity in the ferocity you could not tell.  This was the kinda music I like but in my part of the world heard so seldom.  Then a few months later in an utter stroke of luck I found their album Bon Voyage in the reduced bin at Selectadisc on Berwick Street on a rare visit to Soho.  So much about this act felt like fortune.

And yet they remain quite the mystery.  They are from Japan and not a million miles away from sounding like Melt-Banana but other than that there is not much recorded about them (certainly not on the west side of the internet).  Their individual names are: Ahead, Kira, KROZ and Zub Man but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a four piece.

With the help of a Japanese speaking friend I am able to decipher that Wnico was/is a band from either Ooimachi in Tokyo or Yashio Kanto, they did some soundtrack work for surfing videos and that the lead singer was possibly a professional flower arranger.  Even if I don’t necessarily believe these things, I want to believe these things.

Elsewhere any effort to discover information via the Kill Rock Stars website only leads you down the lane of mystery and literal description celebrating the scatological approach to business by the band calling it a “a crazy trainwreck of a record” and throwing elemental comparisons to Bad Brains and Shonen Knife into the mix.

Bon Voyage is a thirteen song (fourteen track) twenty two minute bonsai bonanza.  In wide and varied motion the band rides the surf of several genres all based around noise snatching at hardcore punk, reggae and electronica.  It’s a very futuristic, cyberpunk affair, a beacon of craziness in amongst an overload of neon.

It fires in a flurry with the two aforementioned hardcore tracks juddering and roaring into action with end of the world gestures and Atari Teenage Riot like vocal screams.  And then it gets playful with “Proffecior T” that crashes in with a wacky rap coupled with female inserts much in the style of Cibo Matto ahead of building into a lurching bounce.

Arriving at “A Motion” and its stuttering thunderous hardcore which descends into scratching coupled with an Ad-Rock-esqe baseline suddenly there is something very Grand Royal about this package/treatment.  And going forward often the bass sounding really does drive and poke through.

Then in the style of Bad Brains the listener is offered a breather in the form of “Overjoy” and some heavy dub reggae with booming bass and echoed vocals that feel that they could go forever.  And a few tracks later we receive more of the same with the expansive “Hell Bird”.

Generally it is the hardcore punk that dominates proceedings.  Only four songs on the album pass the two minute mark and half of them are the reggae numbers.  “Burger Time” sounds particularly like a Beastie Boys work out with feedback and a heavy distorted baseline that could topple buildings.  Later “Up Stairs” reminds me of an all female Japanese metal band called Gallhammer while the pleasingly spelled “Dead Hiway” contains a crazed “toot toot toot” chorus hook that serves to remind of Nardwuar The Human Serviette.

Most of Wnico is a fun and playful experience.  “D Land” begins sounding like it is being played in a different room in the distance and as it nears naturally the noise increases until it is pleasantly in your face before performing a perfect kiss and run act disappearing back into the distance.

If this is to be there only album (which appears to be the case), Wnico had a perfect career.

Thesaurus moment: epigrammatic.

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