Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vastieu Ramen - Toungue Night [Bonbon Bruises]

Unfortunately the Bonbon Bruises label is now defunct and we'll all have to lean a bit harder on the few other Canadian outposts peddling tapes and weirdo wares. It's sad this Vastieu Ramen tape is among the last but, still, it's a great note to go out on.
I don't know anything about this band but all evidence seems to point to them hailing from Japan. With probably each track coming in somewhere under two minutes on average, this is a frantic scrambled mess and a great listen as well.
The group mostly ends up in the free/no wave/Skin Graft end of the spectrum with a bit of the classic Boredoms zaniness. They don't keep anything off-limits though."Scramble Egg" is the name of the first track and what a great image to have in mind for the whole tape. It's mellow and foreboding with electronic rumbles, random percussion, repetitive guitar hammer-ons and, coolest of all, eerie whistling! "Toron" makes a bigger splash with thundering toms, twisted vocals and skronky guitar riffs. The song flirts with a full-on freak out but ultimately restrains itself even putting in a nice guitar and bass duet. "Haidetekuru" is brief, all atonal false starts. "8 Panics" is a stand-out due to a loping bass line and Nick Cave circa '82-style vocals. The guitarist throws in all sorts of weird licks, sometimes machine gun-like sometimes like a whimpering animal. Then the drummer changes things up to a hearty groove and the band locks while the vocalist shrieks "Itsthenumbereight!" as one word. "Hike in the Dark" is real weird, chopped and screwed vocals and lots weird electronics burbling around and even a Greek-sounding lute thing. There's also something that sounds like the bastard child of a saxophone and a Commodore 64 too. It's a well-done piece which isn't always the case when rock bands try their hands at noise. "Chouhoukei" rolls along on a loop for a while before shifting into a new set of soaring loops before moving back into a thick minimal beat with guitar noodling overtop. There's cool stuff in it but I miss the tightly coiled energy of the other tracks. The accompanying track listing has mathematical errors so from this point on I'm not quite sure which name belongs to which track, there's another brittle bundle-of-nerves jam that could be part of "Chouhoukei" or it could be "Gekirace" and the last piece of the side, a short interlude, is maybe unlisted. It doesn't really matter at all, and any confusion adds to the fun.
The second side starts out with the immaculately titled "The Guy Who Cut Himself in the Neck 3 Times in Brazil" and with a name like that the music hardly matters. It's a pretty weird jam. Agitated shrieks, free-form guitar and drums, and mega-80s keyboard swells coalesce into no discernible form. "Moron" (perhaps a thematic follow-up) is built upon its basslines and the sometime raving up/sometimes cooling down drumming. "Telepathy" is a collab with V's who I think may be contributing guest vocals, which is only one element that makes the track great. It seems more developed, with all the instruments locking into the universal skronk and throwing in a few trippy melodies as well. "Dummy" (yeah there's gotta be a theme here) also relies heavily on the person jamming on the bass with drums, vox and guitar making their occasional stabs. The vocalist is totally drawing on "Acid Police" too. "Ajinomoto Marina" the first of two Nokoinoko covers, is a great theatrical, keyboard-and-silly vocals jam that's way too short. Luckily, the other cover follows close behind though it's also deathly short. The instrumental title track has almost an A-Frames style repetitious minimalism before getting looser and launching into a queasy groove. Closer "Grypton" is a short instrumental of squirty synths bubbling up.
Toungue Night is a fun tape and a welcome subversion of expectations when I first popped it in (I was expecting something much noisier.)
Comes in a manilla envelope with paste-on artwork and an insert of a giant packaged tongue from a supermarket. Kinda disgusting. Only limited to 40 copies I think, I'm not sure where or if copies are still available but the ol' google search might help.

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