Line The Wall
, October 11th, 2012 10:58
As any aspiring guitar hero will attest, few are the pleasures as satisfying as a cranked up amp combined with an endless array of pedals waiting to be activated by a nimble right foot to create a series of otherworldy noises and howls. Indeed, left locked in a soundproofed room with a range of Death By Audio products, there remains a very real possibility that a fretworrier obsessed with breaking sonic boundaries might never re-emerge. But as any fule kno, the real trick is the ability to translate these sonic manipulations into something that's going to be of interest to anyone beyond the architect behind them.
No such worries for Japanese psyche émigrés Bo Ningen. Having gained a well-earned reputation thanks to any number of incendiary live shows that have seen them lay waste to a trail of pubs, clubs, festivals and radio sessions, Bo Ningen possess the enviable ability of fusing extreme psychedelic workouts played at furious volume and velocity with an innate melodic sense. This isn't noise for noise's sake; this is a form of subversion, a blurring of the lines and a derangement of the senses. In fact, it's everything that psychedelic music should be.
What's immediately apparent with this, their second album, is that Bo Ningen have built on the explosive calling card that was their eponymous debut with an almost indecent ease. This isn't to denigrate their efforts; this is a band with a sharp focus and a fertile imagination and one that is able to expand its sonic palette thanks to a greater mastery of their craft. As evidenced by opener, 'Soko', the vibrating fuzz bass that ushers in the album is tempered by the almost dream-like quality of the shimmering flashes that swirl around it. Delightfully hypnotic, the sound is grounded thanks to the juxtaposition of shouted, almost desperate vocals which are all sung in the band's native tongue.
'Shin Ichi' finds Bo Ningen almost crawling from the wreckage of the barrage that introduces it before finding their feet in the environs of a pulsating bassline and circuler, almost nagging riff that succeeds in worming itself into your psyche and remaining there. Proving that they're a band of light and shade, the epic 'Ten To Sen' is the closest the quartet comes to creating a ballad, albeit one awash with a backdrop of harmonic noise and feedback.
The album's most satisfying moment arrives in the form of the magnificent 'Daikaisei Part 1'. Built around a single chord and employing the kind of chugging dynamics that characterised so much 70s rock, this deceptively simple joy slowly and methodically unleashes a swirl of heavily-treated guitars. Despite the onslaught that is unleashed, Bo Ningen's deployment of effects here is nothing less than subtle and one that bears repeated scrutiny.
With Line The Wall, Bo Ningen have truly found their own voice. Underpinned throughout by an unabashed pop sensibility that acts as a launch pad for their explorations into the unlimited realms of sound, this is an album that proves conclusively that psychedelia still has so much more to offer.