Album cover Neji/Tori - Nisennenmondai
Neji/ToriNisennenmondai7/10

Nisennenmondai - Neji/Tori

3 Aug 2008 macron1

In anticipation of Tokyo three-piece Nisennenmondai finally releasing something for the non-Japanese world, this review is rather a sort of preview of Tori/Neiji, due to be released 29/7/08. Tori/Neiji appears to be a combination of two EPs released by the girls in 2005 and 2004, respectively, thus allowing for convenient previewability as all the materials within have been available for quite some time. While myspace has in the meantime been somewhat of assistance for the (geopolitical) Western world, it is good to finally be deemed worthy of some kind of actually potentially legitimately acquired wares from the group, albeit of some not inconsiderable age.

Nisennenmondai, which allegedly translates as "computer bug problem", produce a difficultly defined sound, hovering around psychedelic/experimental instrumental noise rock, while also bordering on the perhaps less precise edges of the awfully named "math/math" rock genre. The latter is mostly by virtue of some of the bands they have shared the stage with, such as, Battles and Hella, of whose Japanese tour vid Concentration Face they have a star turn. Upon first listening, Tori/Neiji is like what it might sound like if you had a guitar and some drums and wanted to be in a band but weren't really sure what kind of music to play, so you just kinda smash on your instruments together with your mates (or as another guy put it, "they sound something like a rehearsal room rolling down the side of a hill"). Viewing of Nisennenmondai live (eg the Hella dvd) attests their music is tightly composed and… not by chance as some of these inadequate descriptions might suggest.

The Neiji portion of the album begins with "Pop Group" (mp3 link), which is the "first" (i.e. non-Japanese) release from the album and features a driving bass line and over some clangy guit-board, crashing together in and out of some dubious solo-type featurettes that cycle over, and sounds like it might fall to pieces at any time, which it doesn't until the end where it culminates suitably. “This Heat” is similar in terms of the over-riding bass line, however is much less aggressive, until the end, while "2534" is Lightning Bolt-esque except in duration. "Itkyokume' (I am 30% sure I have that spelt right, cf. their record label press release spells it "Ikkkyokume", twice, so it is probably that) rounds out the Neiji part drawing on the aforementioned psychedelic elements and featuring an entertaining drum solo, as well as getting two tries (see below).

Tori stands out as the better half of the collection. "Kyuukohan" kicks it off with a quivering building that draws a little on the Sonic Youth influence that Nisennenmondai are eager to espouse (one of the tracks on Neiji is called "Sonic Youth"). "Itkyokume/Ikkkyokume" makes a reappearance, this time with some fragile (semi)vocals, and sounds overall a much better arrangement and recording than that on the first part of the album. For some reason it is also shorter in duration than the first go. "Iyashi" concludes the piece, however it is only about 30 seconds of jangly familiar-sounding niceness, before stopping for a couple of seconds before a weird "hidden track" that may or may not actually be "Iyashi", and is composed of several movements that sound almost improvisational in parts. I guess all will be revealed when the actual album is released...

All round, this is a bizarre choice of release at the current time but fills an important gap in their foreign offerings, and is a good intro to Nisennenmondai for those interested in something different but familiar. We are all looking forward to (a) new material, and (b) an album from these ladies.

Sardless Tracks

  • Itkyokume/ Ikkkyokume
  • Iyashi
  • Pop Group

Track Listing

  1. Pop Group
  2. This Heat
  3. 2534
  4. Sonic Youth
  5. Itkyokume (Ikkkyokume)
  6. Kyuukohan
  7. Kyaaaaaaa
  8. Ikkkyokume
  9. Iyashi