Zazen Boys Zazen Boys

[Matsuri Studios; 2004]

Styles: experimental punk, Japanese rap rock
Others: Number Girl,

If I ever decide to become an actor and find myself on Inside the Actors Studio, James Lipton will undoubtedly question: "And what sound or noise do you love?" And I will almost certainly answer with: "Why, the sound of a Japanese man screaming bloody murder, of course." Oh how Mukai Shuutoku, frontman and mastermind behind Zazen Boys, pleases me so. He has one of the best screams in indie rock, period. Formerly of Number Girl, Mukai has struck out on his own here, having the sense to drag his former bandmate Ahito Inazawa along for the ride. Inazawa's inclusion makes the affair painfully reminiscent of Number Girl at times, yet (as expected) his booming, frenzied drumming often steals the show. Zazen Boys may be the only album this year that has the balls to plant a minute long drum solo in the middle of its song cycle: It's no Moby Dick, but I can't say I wasn't surprised upon hearing it.

The rest of the album is fairly experimental as well, spitting out jets of loose noise rock in one instant and locking into an air tight start/stop dynamic the next. Zazen Boys' most successful moment comes in "Cold Summer," when the beat starts driving over Mukai's struggling wail. It's a solid rock song, rivaling almost anything in the Number Girl canon. Elsewhere, Mukai slips into a curious rap/spoken word rant. His 'rapping' (if you can call it that) will make or break some peoples experience with Zazen Boys, but it's hard to deny its intrigue, even if you're just wondering what the hell is being said.

Overall, Zazen Boys isn't the cleanest affair, but it has a certain gusto that is sorely missing in a lot of today's independent rock. Each song is attacked with vigorous ambition, and in one way or another, the results are extremely interesting to soak up. So have a listen; if you've liked what you've heard so far, you just might get addicted.

1. Fender Telecaster
2. Usodarake
3. The Days of Nekomachi
4. Yureta Yureta Yureta
5. Cold Summer
6. ????
7. Instant Radical
8. Maboroshi in My Blood
9. Ikasama Love
10. Si·ge·ki
11. Kimochi
12. Whisky & Unubore
13. ????

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