Nisennenmondai | Neji/Tori
Nisennenmondai (Smalltown Supersound)
Most likely to: clear a room of any faint-hearted souls.
Back in 1999 three young women met in Tokyo and formed a band with the tongue-in-cheek name Nisennenmondai, which translates roughly as “year 2000 problem.” It’s a long name for the no-wave minimalism of Masako Takada (guitar), Yuri Zaikawa (bass), and Sayaka Himeno (drums). After building a fan base in the Tokyo music scene the trio offer Neji/Tori, a compilation of two EPs, as their first release outside Japan.
The pretty flowers on the record’s cover are a red herring, just like Nisennenmondai, who look pretty much like Tokyo’s version of the girls next door. Their sweet exterior conceals a penchant for simply constructed noise rock.
The Neji version of “Ikkkyokume” is a standout. Himeno’s exceptional drumming holds the song, which is an improvisational number with psychedelic overtones that begs to be witnessed live, together. A version of Ikkkyokume also appears on Tori, and while it is clearly the same tune, it lacks the bite of the original. Except for the screams on “Kyaaaaaaa” and the warbles on “Ikkkyokume,” Neji/Tori is completely instrumental. On “Kyaaaaaaa,” the bassline is the focus, allowing Zaikawa to dictate the song’s pace. The record ends with the seventeen minute long “Iyashi” whose grooving post-Punk is punctuated by ten minutes of abrupt silence after the first thirty-five seconds.
The perfect soundtrack for family holidays or vacationing with the in-laws, Neji/Tori’s vibe is best suited to a time when the listener has an emotional axe to grind, yet can still maintain a sense of fun. Nisennenmondai’s debt to Sonic Youth-inspired noise, blended with their knack for improvisation, will create love/hate reactions whatever the occasion, and sometimes that’s just the ticket.