Our continual search for the musically esoteric and eccentric brings us, invariably, to the world of Japanese rap. Now, I’ll be upfront: rap and hip hop are not my music of choice. But the press release made this sound suitably oddball and intriguing, and I’m nothing if not open-minded.
Fronted by Taigan Kawabe – who I am informed is a member of UK-based Japanese ‘neo-psych / noise rockers’ Bo Ningen, a band I am unfamiliar with, but whom you imagine must be rather more interesting than this project – Akadama Bros mix the usual fast talkin’ with backing tracks that are mostly rather ineffectual R&B guff. Here the Japanese language at least gives it a touch of originality, and I’d hoped that not understanding what is being said would improve the experience. Unfortunately, in this case the vocals clash with the music in an increasingly annoying way.
To be honest, the first four tracks on this EP – which make up what I guess is the meat of the affair – are not that interesting. Sunshine, featuring Chinza Dopeness rapping, is not awful, but the situation rapidly deteriorates. In fact, the third and forth tracks – R And B and Akadama 2017– are pretty much an intolerable experience, with the rapping being a relentless irritation while the music is tedious synth-led dirge. Individually, these elements are bad enough; combined, they reach the toxic levels of mixing various sorts of bleaches and creating risin.
The temptation would be to stop here, but my commitment to reviewing made me flip the disc over and check out the B-side, where things improve considerably. Akadama Dub has all the problems of the earlier tracks, but at least has a solid bass line to make it a little less irksome.. It’s the remixes of Sunshine that ensure this project isn’t entirely worthless: with funky dance beats and – perhaps tellingly – no rapping, the Technoman NYC Remix is a pretty solid affair that, while not especially original, delivers the musical goods. The CandleHank Night Remix, on the other hand, finally provides the eccentricity that I’d been hoping for – child-like analogue electronics and discordant melodies that are pleasingly avant-garde make this rather-too-short version the best bit of the album. Had the entire thing been like this, I’d probably be urging you to snap up this EP immediately.
As it is, two remixes might not be a good enough reason to actually spend money on a record. And we must consider the possibility that my enjoyment of these tracks may have been influenced by a sense of relief that the previous tracks had finally finished. But if you can buy the tracks individually, I’d suggest going straight to the final two remixes and pretending that the rest of the record simply didn’t exist.