Uncommon music criticized by the common man. (Or, exercises in futility masquerading as critical thought.)

Thursday, September 04, 2003

It's been a helluva week. This time, I actually have a legit excuse for not posting sooner.

For those that do not know (and I'm guessing that's anybody who doesn't know me and just happened to stumble across this blog), I'm an accounting wonk for one of the larger hotels in Washington, D.C. and we are working on the 2004 Budget. It's ass, but by this time next week, I will be in the clear. Consequently, I'm so wiped out by the time I get home that blogging has no appeal to me.

Anyway...can't talk now, reviewing.

High Rise
1999 - Squealer Music

Rock and fucking roll. (How's that for a cliched critic-type opening?) Seriously, in a just world, High Rise would be huge. Enormous. Sadly, in a world overrun by overproduction and hip-hop production (and I'm not putting down the latter, but it is--ironically--sucking the soul out of popular music), there is no place for High Rise on the popular music landscape.

Which is sad, because you don't find this much exhiliration in rock music these days. Between the gelid introspection of Radiohead, the Neanderthal utterings of nu-metal, and the utter pointlessness of cutesy-poo mall punk, balls to the wall rock and roll is as out of place in "rock music" as Kate Moss in a smorgasbord. High Rise play it like the power trios of yore, with guitar heroics married to a tight as hell and raging rhythm section. The players are so in sync with one another that you'd think ProTools was somehow involved.

Want a more detailed description? Okay, first, High Rise are Munehiro Narita on guitar, Asahito Nanjo on bass and vocals, and in this case, Pill on drums. The star on this album is Narita, whose lightning fuzz and wah driven solos are the perfect fuel for the world's air guitarists. Nanjo's bass is nearly as in your face (especially on the album's best track, the mind blowing "Whirl"), creating the perfect low-end thud for Narita's madness, but never getting left behind. Pill is the perfect drummer for this band, who fills the gaps perfectly, while playing with the same rock and roll abandon that his bandmates exhibit. And yet, for all the ruckus the individual members create, they are still tighter than Strom Thurmond's sphincter. It never flies out of control (as some Japanese psych rock--I'm looking at you Acid Mothers--has a tendency to do. Instead, the songs (5 total, though, the fifth is an improvised, fractured, avant-styled piece that doesn't fit with the other songs, even as it keeps with the groups improv-derived nature) rely on fat, ass-shaking grooves. The third track, "Sadame," starts off with a riff that wouldn't be out of place on an Allman Bros. disc, before blazing into Hendrix-style guitar heroics. With the exception of the final track, this is as close to classic psychedelic rock you're going to get with any modern band, but without the shitty laser light show and tacky fashion sense. And most importantly, without a wink or an iota of irony in the mix. This is rock for rock's fucking sake, played by some honest to god great musicians, and your ass should be paying attention.