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After Fifteen Years, a Japanese Noise Legend Returns: The Gerogerigegege's "Moenai Hai"

Moenai Hai

Moenai Hai

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing that you’ll know that bit from Airheads where they say, ‘Who would win in a wrestling match: Lemmy or God? Trick question! Lemmy is god!’ While I completely agree with this sentiment and place Mr. Kilmister pretty high in my personal pantheon, I can also say the same for the Gerogerigegege‘s founder: Juntarō Yamanouchi is God.

Yamanouchi, to me, represents the omega of music—the total end of it. Nobody can do more (or less) than he did. From the distilled, stripped-down Ramones tribute of his legendary noisecore releases (Mother Fellatio, Yellow Trash Bazooka, Tokyo Anal Dynamite, etc.) to the minimal drones of None Friendly, passing through the Christmas masturbation antics of ‘White Christmas, White Sperm’ (which is incidentally my favorite track ever recorded), the Gerogerigegege’s whole discography is a monument to the extremes that can be reached in music.

Yamanouchi is perhaps one of the most sophisticated of the early Japanese noise bunch, being among the very few people in the world to mix influences from avant-garde composers with our beloved lowest form of music. You don’t often witness cocktails of Whitehouse, Walter Marchetti worship, exhibitionism, and Asian pop music.

He also disappeared from the scene for fifteen years, more or less, so Moenai Hai is an unexpected, lovely surprise for fanboys like myself, and the hype is further exaggerated by the fact that it’s been released by Grim‘s label Eskimo Records and distributed by quintessential filthy noise label Lust Vessel—the cream of old and new Japanese extreme electronics. The CD is probably not what casual Gerogerigegege listeners will be expecting. You’ll find no noisecore genre-standard brutality here. On the other hand, the more careful fans will find a lot of crossover with past overlooked releases and much more.

The drunken man blathering in some train station on ‘Out of Saiga’ calls to mind the madness of ‘Endless Humiliation’, for example, and the dull, cacophonous piano/carillon notes of ‘The Final Tuning’ seem to follow up on the Fluxus-influenced extravaganza of ‘Hell Driver’.

From start to finish, Yamanouchi reveals many different faces to his creative output, and it’s a pleasure to get lost in his creepy, deranged, otherworldly, and simply weird sounds.

The Gerogerigegege (Circa 1990) | Credit: Saori Tsuji

The Gerogerigegege (Circa 1990) | Credit: Saori Tsuji

The screeching-metal ‘treasures/trash recordings’ (that’s Yamanouchi’s stance on field recordings, apparently) in ‘Out of Saiga’ are insidious, painful, crystal-clear, sharp, and frightfully similar to what my friend Paolo Gaiba-Riva recorded in some park for his Vacanze cassette a few months ago. ‘Great minds think alike’, as they say—especially when there is eardrum-drilling, metal-on-metal action involved. The throbbing low frequency hum lurking deep in Moenai Hai‘s mix gives the track more push and at least some form of structure. Frankly, it just sounds good. In fact, the whole record—with the exception of ‘The Gerogerigegege’, which is quite lo-fi—sounds extremely sharp and well-produced. It’s probably the best-sounding Gerogerigegege record so far (that wasn’t a line you expected to read, eh?).

The track lengths on Moenai Hai are massive, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I need fifteen minutes of pure psychedelic guitar and percussive noise rock to enjoy ‘The Gerogerigegege’ and revel in its Stalin-esque Mort Douce-ness. Imagine Les Rallizes Dénudés covering the most famous Japanese punk band as loud as possible.

Of course, twenty-two minutes is not too much for the reverberated, low-frequency piano booms and quasi-ambient drones of ‘Tokyo〜Sea of Losers/Donors for USA’. Please give me more. No other artist could pull off an eight-minute epic of solely mild, slow, carillon-like sounds and make it sound coherent with the rest of the album and his body of work. Moenai Hai will likely be difficult to digest for many noiseheads and will likely be almost entirely obnoxious and useless for most experimental/avant-garde connoisseurs. After all, it is an album that could easily be described as difficult, boring, redundant, cacophonous, seemingly pointless, sparse, and absurd, but I fucking love it. In fact, it’s the perfect chance to show another side of this essential project to all of the people who associate the Gerogerigegege exclusively with short bursts of wacky noisecore.

Moenai Hai goes beyond music; hell, it goes beyond everything. As Yamanouchi once famously wrote, ‘Fuck (composition). Fuck melody. Dedicated to no one. Thanks to no one. ART IS OVER.’ The Gerogerigegege is back, and that’s all that matters.

As an addendum, the limited-edition C10 bonus tape that was only available with preorders placed at Lust Vessel features previously unreleased material recorded in 1985, around the time of the Gerogerigegege’s first tapes. The brutal, loud, distorted screams and electronic mayhem fit perfectly with the project’s production of that era, and they’re perhaps among the most violent moments in their whole catalogue.

Top that with more Japanese drunk blabbering, and you’ll have the recipe for a perfect, albeit very short, noise tape. Unfortunately, since preorder is over now, you’re unlikely to be able to find it unless you want to pay ridiculous prices on Discogs. Now suffer like I’m suffering for the extra-limited bonus CD-R, which is available only at the Disk Union store in Tokyo.

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Track List:

01) 西河の果て / Out of Saiga
02) ゲロゲリゲゲゲ / The Gerogerigegege
03) 敗残兵士達の海 / Tokyo〜Sea Of Losers/Donors For USA
04) 最期の調律 / Final Tuning

Bonus Tape:
A1) Untitled
B1) Deltitnu

Written by: Nicola Vinciguerra
Labels:
Eskimo Records (Japan) / CD-03 / CD, CD+Tape
Lust Vessel (Japan) / N/A / CD, CD+Tape
Noise / Experimental