Japanese art-rockers Bo Ningen create music that is so intensely thought-provoking that after listening to Line The Wall you will feel as though your synapses have been opened so widely you could reproduce Edvard Munch’s The Scream from visceral sensation alone.

Words by

Denver Maxx

The music is jarring and the vocals shrill. It comes as no surprise that this band formed as improvised punk duo consisting of Taigen Kawabe (bass/vocals) and Yuki Tsujii (guitar). It came about because the two Bo Ningen members’ previous bands were billed on the same lineup and they were so enthralled by each other’s skills that they decided to collaborate.  

The improvisation-based origins of the group is evident in their sound as the guitars seem to chase Kawabe’s squalling vocals down a merry musical path. Track 2 'Henkan' (means [lost in] translation) is a fluid descent into organised madness as it begins Kawabe punching lyrics at an indiscernible rate – the fact it’s in Japanese also makes it difficult to understand. So anyway, as Kawabe’s vocals slow down, an avalanche of beats – via skins master Monchan Monna – comes tumbling in.  

The following track, Daikaisei Part 1, is a far more standard rock number that alludes to influences such as MC5, Trans Am, Susi Q and, of course, The Ramones (what is it with Japan and The Ramones).  

Although all the members hail from Japan and the band sings only in Japanese, Bo Ningen actually formed in London and that is where the members became friends with Jehnny Beth who went on to become the lead singer of British post-punk act Savages. This led to the re-recording of the song Nichijyou with Beth contributing vocals; the result is a mesmerising collaboration as Beth’s authoritative vocal style duels with Kawabe’s idiosyncratic styling. Nichijyou translates to ‘everyday’ but there is nothing everyday about this song!

Interestingly, the opening song of the album Soko has the expansive wildness one would normally expect from an album’s final track. It seems to announce to the listener that this going to be a wild, disconcerting and exquisitely numbing journey, so turn up the volume and strap yourself in! 

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