Brain-scrunchingly loud with enough noise to disconcert any genre-fitting genius, Bo Ningen have grabbed at the attention of all who come through their long-haired, thrashing path. They flit through krautrock, thrash, psychedelic, J-rock and post-punk nuances, managing to roll them all into their music. And that’s when they gather everything up into a big ball of meaninglessness and throw it right in your face.
They are the purveyors of noise, icons of spacey genre conflict who thrive on making order from chaos. Their latest single “Karoshitai Kimochi” takes full throttle charge with a wicked riff and sometimes-screeching vocals. On the flip side beckons “Atami”- an almost-ballad that offers a welcoming lull for battered eardrums. Filled with plaintive singing and a light tapping of the cymbal, the rolling music builds up and up and up towards gentle repose.
“The thing about the Japanese music listener is they’re always looking for something new. And there is so much information with the internet everywhere and it’s easy to find out even about European bands. London’s music scene is very popular in Japan,” lead singer Taigen tells us. This could subconsciously sum up a lot about the band. Although their influence seems more rooted in the past rather than future hits, their hotchpodge sound seems to be searching for something new.
Although hailing from Japan they’re now based in London where reception to the band has been glowing. Their clubnight, ‘East Electric Psychedelic’, showcases the band once a month with the apt banner “go far beyond every sphere of music” flowing in the breeze behind them. So, the capital has proven a safe-haven of sorts for the band. “We head back to London for Offset Festival. We played there last year and it was really good. We enjoyed it and quite a lot of people mention that they saw us there”. And in Japan? “We did one Japan tour in 2008 and we didn’t really promote well and so maybe not many people know about us. Some people found out but they treat us as a band from London not a Japanese band, which is quite interesting. We hope to go back and play in the near future, hopefully at the end of this year”.
So perhaps London offers a more receptive following as well as the helpful fact that even with not much money you can eek out a broke existence. “If we were in Japan, especially in Tokyo if you’re broke you can’t play much. But here even if you don’t have much money you can still play the gigs”.
Even if the global recession hindered them financially they definitely aren’t economical when it comes to live performances. Giving 100% into each footstep on the stage, it’s a thrash-metal glory fest of longhair tickling audience chins, starring the best headbanging session since Alice Cooper’s heyday. The squealing vocals hit off every acoustic laden orifice, the guitars reverberate and the drums roll into a transfixing whirl of noise. Sockless and lithe, either one or all members of the band find heights to scale and a ceiling to hang from. It’s a fuzzy meltdown of near-improvisation. “We just jam… to make the structure, it just comes out of jamming. There is no preparation. I guess that’s why it sounds improvised, because it has come out of that.”
Add into Bo Ningen their great aesthetic- the long, flowing locks which are guaranteed to incite hair-envy in all who come near, the classic flares-and-flower-shirt combo and that indefatigable touch of coolness which emanates from their bodies- and you have a band of cult following status. After a few listens the fuzz clears and the music makes sense. Or maybe it’s a touch of brain meltdown. Either way their unique music should have a staple spot on many a playlist.